Someone you know could be at risk |

Someone you know could be at risk

Kay Vasilakis
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The suicide rate in Garfield County is nearly twice the national average. Read that statistic again. It doesn’t seem possible in this beautiful part of the country.

The statistics come from the state Suicide Prevention Foundation, which calculates statistics every 10 years. The Garfield County Suicide Prevention Coalition states that according to last month’s coroner’s report, our county has had consistently increased suicides in the last five years, and we are almost at the total for 2009. With the holiday season on its way, a usual time to see more suicide attempts, it is probable last year’s numbers will be exceeded.

Possible contributors to the increase could be high unemployment rates, less access to mental health services, ongoing recession, current conflicts in the Middle East and continued societal stigma.

Most vulnerable are males aged 40 and up in the construction industry, including oil and gas workers. The elderly and youth between 16 and 24 are also at risk.

Colorado has an annual suicide rate which is approximately 40 percent higher than the U.S. rate. More Coloradans die by suicide each year than those who die in motor vehicle crashes or by homicide. Yet suicide continues to be viewed as an individual issue rather than a public health issue.

Last year, 59 Roaring Fork Valley school students chose to self-report for depression or suicidal thoughts at the conclusion of suicide prevention trainings. They were given counseling opportunities.

September is National Suicide Prevention and Education Awareness Month. The Suicide Prevention Coalition of Garfield County is offering two free prevention trainings, one from 6-8 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Silt Fire Station, and from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 6 at the New Castle Library. Donations will be accepted, but are not necessary to attend.

Learn the warning signs, common myths and facts associated with suicide. Learn intervention skills to offer hope and help, and ways of referring at-risk people to local resources.

A recent class held in Glenwood brought 11 professionals, but organizers want to reach those lay persons who may have attempted, who know someone who has, who are depressed or perhaps know someone who has died by suicide.

“We need to spot those who may be suicidal but want to live, and understand that people in this condition just want to get rid of their pain,” said Donalyne LaGiglia, chair of the Suicide Prevention Education part of the coalition. “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but a person depressed has difficulty with their understanding to move forward.”

For more information regarding classes or for anyone interested in participating in the Garfield County Suicide Prevention Coalition, please contact LaGiglia at or call 948-6108 .

By educating the community, statistics in counties having a suicide prevention program have shown a decrease in deaths by suicide. You can make a positive change in someone who is contemplating suicide. That is powerful.

YouthZone is offering free parent consultations in September as a thank-you to the community for its support of this year’s annual Kiss-n-Squeal fundraiser.

A consultation is a 50-minute session to help identify family needs and issues. Parents will leave with a plan including various options and resources to help reach their parenting goals.

Contact YouthZone to set up your consultation at 945-9300 or 625-3141.

Kay Vasilakis’ “Nonprofit Spotlight” column runs every other Wednesday in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. She is an active member of the Garfield County Human Services Commission. For a possible column about your local nonprofit event or news item, e-mail or call 618-6689.

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