While it’s important to address our mental health year-round, September provides a specific time to focus on one of the most difficult subjects in mental health —suicide. During this time, mental health professionals across the country make efforts to raise awareness around the matter of suicide and develop plans for its prevention in every possible case.
Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the CDC. In 2021, 48,000 people died by suicide, with nearly 1,400 of those in Colorado. It was among the top 10 leading causes of death for people ages 10-64 in the same year. Additionally, over 12 million people seriously considered suicide, with 1.7 million making an attempt.
Certain groups are more at-risk for death by suicide than others. The highest rates by race or ethnicity were non-Hispanic Indigenous Americans, followed by non-Hispanic white people, according to the CDC. Those who identify in the LGBTQ+ community also have a higher tendency to display suicidal thoughts or behavior than their peers who identify as heterosexual. Veterans and those living in rural areas with limited access to mental healthcare or support are also at a higher risk.
“While suicides are still happening, our services continue to have an integral role in suicide prevention.”
This information depicts a challenging road ahead, but more recent data provides some positive developments in Colorado, where teen suicide rates have dropped to their lowest level in nearly a decade. While this decrease is still not a major change, there are still positive takeaways. “It is encouraging to hear how the Zero Suicide initiatives may be providing further support for youth in Colorado when they have given up all hope,” said Amanda Hodge, a Family Services Outpatient Coordinator and Zero Suicide Committee member at Jefferson Center. “Though the new data is heartening, our teams still serve many youth who struggle. The data assists us in knowing we might be headed in the right direction with younger clients, and that while suicides are still happening, our services continue to have an integral role in suicide prevention.”
Above all, the most important takeaway during this time is that suicide can be prevented. To drive that point home, Jefferson Center has established a Suicide Prevention Coalition operating under a grant from The Office of Suicide Prevention. This is a group of mental & public health professionals, educators, activists, and folks with lived experience all driven by the same goal: putting an end to suicide deaths. Their work is to inspire hope and provide support for all members of our counties by implementing the CNC framework into our prevention efforts.
The committee operates under six main pillars of focus:
- Lethal Means Safety
- Economic Stability & Support
- Access to Safer Suicide Care
- Education & Awareness
Additionally, Jefferson Center’s You Are The Right Person campaign was created to empower our community to share resources, offer support and give hope in order to help prevent suicide.
Even after September ends, we hope you will join in continuing the conversation around suicide prevention. To learn more, subscribe to Jefferson Center’s YouTube channel and visit our website for more resources on suicide awareness and prevention.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, Colorado Crisis Services is available 24/7/365 by calling 1-844-493-8255 or texting TALK to 38255