Monday, June 13, 2016

Addressing our high rate of suicide

Posted By on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 at 1:23 PM

click to enlarge SHUTTERSTOCK
Suicide is a huge problem in Colorado and the trend doesn't seem to be letting up. 

Back in February, I wrote a story about youth suicide following the deaths of four local teens. Recently, another rash of teen suicides in our county has led to more concern. If the trends tell us anything, suicide will continue to be a problem. Check out what I wrote a few months ago:
Colorado has the distinction of having the nation's seventh highest suicide rate. The statistics get a little trickier on youth suicides, though that number is also high. (We're third in the nation for youth suicides, ages 10 to 18, though Kirk Bol, interim vital records registrar for the Colorado Center for Health and Environmental Data, says statistically there is no real difference between the rates of the top 20 states.)

El Paso County isn't exactly a role model. While statistically speaking, there's no difference between the county and state suicide rates, it's reasonable to assume that El Paso County is nowhere near the low end for the state — and our rate has been going up. Between 2012 and 2014, the county recorded 24 youth suicides (ages 10 to 18) for a rate of 9.39 deaths per 100,000 youths, while the state had 140 youth suicides, for a rate of 7.41 deaths per 100,000 youths.
On the bright side, several things are being done to combat the problem locally and statewide. Pikes Peak Suicide Prevention is offering these free suicide prevention trainings to the public: Penrose Library 6/14 6-7 p.m.; Tri-Lakes YMCA 6/17 10-11 a.m.; East Library 6/27 6-7 p.m.; Tri-Lakes YMCA 6/28 6-7 p.m.; Fountain Library 7/8 6-7 p.m.; and Sand Creek Library 7/27 6:30-7:30 p.m.

On the state level, Gov. John Hickenlooper recently signed a bill that will change how health providers address mental health conditions that can lead to suicide. Read on for more on the bill: 
Implementing Zero Suicide in Colorado
Hick Signs Pettersen Bill to Implement Successful National Zero Suicide Model

(June 10) – A bill by Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood to implement the Zero Suicide model in order to reduce the rate of suicide in Colorado was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper this morning.

“Whether you know someone personally or know a family going through the loss of a loved one, suicide is something that has touched everyone,” said Rep. Pettersen. “This week my brother would have turned 44 years old. I often wonder if the health professionals who were in contact with him at the time had been trained in prevention if he would still be here today.”

“I’m so happy to know that the Zero Suicide model, which has been shown to decrease suicide by 80 percent, will be implemented in Colorado. Suicide is a complex problem in Colorado and demands a proven solution.”

Colorado has the seventh highest suicide rate in the nation and the Zero Suicide model has been shown to decrease suicide by up to 80 percent when implemented in health systems. More than 30 percent of people who die of suicide are receiving mental health care at the time of death and 25 percent go to the Emergency Department in the month before death, demonstrating that coordinated care by professionals trained in the Zero Suicide model can have a significant impact.

SB16-147 creates the Office of Suicide Prevention which will collaborate with health agencies and private healthcare systems to foster the national Zero Suicide model. A wide variety of health and behavioral health systems (including community mental health centers, HMOs, hospitals, substance abuse treatment facilities, and the statewide crisis services system) will be encouraged to adopt suicide prevention best practices known as the seven tenets of Zero Suicide: leadership, training, identification and assessment, patient engagement, treatment, transition, and quality improvement. 

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