Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide

In 2014, Colorado had the sixth highest youth suicide rate in the country. Suicide is the leading cause of death among youth ages 10-17 in Colorado. The number of youth suicides have increased significantly in El Paso County in recent years, the data indicates: 7 in 2014; 14 in 2015; 15 in 2016, and in the first four months of 2017, 11 were reported.
Suicide accounted for over 45 percent of all child fatalities among youth under age 18 in El Paso County that were reviewed by the El Paso County Child Fatality Review Team (CFRT) in 2016.
The figures above are compiled from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Colorado Child Fatality Prevention System, El Paso County Child Fatality Review Team.
“El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) was awarded a three-year grant from Colorado State Innovative Model (SIM) funding. The overall goal of SIM is to increase access to integrated primary care and behavioral health services in coordinated community systems. EPCPH has three main objectives for this funding,” said Meghan Haynes, M.P.H, Teen Suicide Prevention Planner, El Paso County Public Health, at a presentation to media last week.

Those three objectives are identified as follows:
#1: Convene partners to create and implement communication and referral protocols to work across systems to coordinate support activities for youth at-risk for suicide.
This work began in July 2016; currently convening a workgroup to develop these protocols.
Wide variety of stakeholders involved in this effort.
#2: Strengthen partnerships with health systems to increase depression screening, referral, and follow up in the primary care setting for youth.
#3: Support 7 to 10 youth-serving agencies in adopting stigma reduction and resiliency training activities within their system (Youth Mental Health First Aid, Adverse Childhood Experience trainings, Sources of Strength, etc.)

The efforts yielded the following takeaways:
• No single intervention or prevention program can prevent all suicides.
• Suicide is most effectively prevented by a comprehensive approach through the implementation of programs across the prevention spectrum.
• Everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention.

Beginning in February of 2015 and ranging through April of 2017, Dr. Leon Kelly, M.D.,  Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, El Paso County Coroner’s Office, of the El Paso County Child Fatality Review Team tabulated the following information over a 27-month period.
40 Teens completed suicide: 2015: 14, 2016: 15, and through a reporting period into April 2017: 11. The Highest concentration in the data: 11 over 3.5 months in early 2017.
That compares to six in 2014. Kelly says the most common risk factors identified were: Family discord, Recent relocation, Exposure to suicide, and Access to firearms.
Suicide is a public health issue and complex. There are almost always multiple causes, says Janet Karnes, Executive Director, Suicide Prevention Partnership.

Suicide Warning Signs:
• Appearing depressed or sad most of the time. (Untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide.)
• Talking or writing about death or suicide.
• Withdrawing from family and friends.
• Feeling hopeless.
• Feeling helpless.
• Feeling strong anger or rage.
• Feeling trapped -- like there is no way out of a situation.
• Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
• Abusing drugs or alcohol.
• Exhibiting a change in personality.
• Acting impulsively.
• Losing interest in most activities.
• Experiencing a change in sleeping habits.
• Experiencing a change in eating habits.
• Losing interest in most activities.
• Performing poorly at work or in school.
• Giving away prized possessions.
• Writing a will.
• Feeling excessive guilt or shame.
• Acting recklessly.

Some resources for help are:
• Colorado Crisis Services is available to help with a mental health, substance use or emotional crisis, 24/7/365. Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255 to speak confidentially with a trained professional, or visit one of the 11 Walk-In Crisis Services Centers across the state.
• Walk in Crisis Center in Colorado Springs area: 115 S. Parkside Drive, Colorado Springs, C0 80910 or 6071 East Woodman Road, Suite 135, Colorado Springs, CO, 80923
Visit ColoradoCrisisServices.org to learn more.
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273- (TALK) 8255

By Rob Carrigan, rob.carrigan@pikespeaknewspapers.com

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