Suicide prevention group hosts Q&A after July spike
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Source: Suicide Prevention Coalition of Garfield County
With concern growing among local health officials after the number of suicides in Garfield County more than doubled in July compared with the previous six months in 2018, the Garfield County Suicide Prevention hosted a community meeting at the Silt Branch Library on Wednesday to give people a safe space to discuss the issue.
Garfield County Public Health’s Mason Hohstadt, chair of the local suicide prevention group, said the meeting was very informal, with 14 people in attendance and lasting about two hours.
He said the roundtable allowed folks to ask questions that were on their mind and have an open conversation with health professionals and others dealing with similar issues.
Representatives with the Garfield County Coroner’s Office and the Western Slope Veterans Coalition were also in attendance to give information and answers questions people may have on the issue.
The meeting was held in response to the spike in suicides health officials saw in Garfield County last month. From January to June there were four suicides in Garfield County. In July alone, there were six.
“I’ve never seen this sudden increase or concentration in one particular month,” Garfield County Coroner Rob Glassmire told the Post Independent.
“We acknowledged that July suicides was a factor [in the meeting],” Hohstadt said. “We had a conversation about concerns people had and were there to give them information.”
The location of the meeting was also chosen for a specific reason.
Of the six July deaths, five were from Silt and one was from New Castle, according to Glassmire. For the year, the county saw two suicides in January, one each in February and March and then none until the six this past month.
Western Slope Veterans Coalition’s Jeano Sowieja said he found the meeting to be very informative.
He said suicides tend to be prevalent among veterans and he wanted to attend the meeting to let those in attendance know that the coalition is a resource center for any veteran who needs the help.
Hohstadt added that he hopes to have another meeting on the topic, likely sometime in the fall.
“We got a lot of good ideas about how to promote suicide prevention education in the community,” he added.
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