WELD COUNTY — The decision to take one’s life is excruciatingly personal. More Weld County residents died of suicide in 2013 than ever before, according to Weld County public health officials.
“Suicide is one of the most persistent yet preventable public health problems. It’s the leading cause of death from injuries, more than car crashes,” said Mark Wallace, Executive Director of the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment.
Weld County’s suicide death toll in 2013 was 49, well above the county’s 10-year average of 32 per year. About 200 county residents are hospitalized each year for intentional injury. Currently, 80 percent of Weld suicides are among males; and nearly 50 percent are committed by firearms. Males ages 45 to 64 have the highest rate.
According to the 2010 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey for Weld County, 17 percent of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide, and 12 percent of students made a plan how they would do it.
In 2012, 1,053 people in the state completed suicide, the highest number in Colorado history.
“There are likely many reasons for the county’s rising suicide rate” said Kimberly Pratt, North Range Behavioral Health Suicide Educator and Clinician. “The single most identifiable risk factor associated with suicide is depression.”
Suicide can be prevented. Local suicide prevention resources include North Range Behavioral Health’s Suicide Education and Support Services (SESS). SESS provides community education in high schools, businesses, the faith-based organizations as well as the community at large.
The state Office of Suicide Prevention leads Colorado’s suicide prevention and intervention efforts. Two initiatives — Man Therapy.org, an online resource using “manspeak” and humor to target men at risk for depression and suicide, and Means Restriction Education, which educates Coloradoans on the importance of reducing suicidal individuals’ access to lethal means — are promising.
According to experts, people who say they plan to kill themselves and have the means are at the highest risk and should be taken seriously. Taking the initiative to engage in conversation with those people in a way that is nonjudgmental and compassionate is crucial and recommending they seek professional help.
For help call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is staffed 24 hours: 1-800-273-8255. For more information on North Range Behavioral Health’s Suicide Education and Support Services, call 970-313-1160. To find out more information about Man Therapy and Means Restriction Education, visit The Office of Suicide Prevention’s website at www.colorado.gov.