Spike in suicides concerns GarCo health professionals

Alex Zorn

If you, or someone you know needs to talk about their mental health please reach out to one of these organizations:

Hope Center: 970-925-5858

Mind Springs Crisis: 888-207-4004

Colorado Crisis Services: 844-493-8255 (TALK), or text TALK to 38255

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

Source: Suicide Prevention Coalition of Garfield County


2009–2017 Garfield County Suicides (Number of deaths/year)

2009 – 7

2010 – 12

2011 – 10

2013 – 13

2014 – 18

2015 – 11

2016 – 12

2017 – 10

2018 – 10 (January 1 – August 1)

From January to June this year 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,” said Garfield County Coroner Rob Glassmire.

Of the six July deaths, five lived in Silt and one in New Castle, Glassmire said. 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, he said.

Those who died by suicide in the county this year have ranged in age from 24 to 72, with the average age being 48, according to statistics from the Coroner’s Office.

As more local health officials became aware and concerned about these numbers, the Garfield County Suicide Prevention Coalition is mobilizing to determine how it can help prevent what appears to be a growing issue in 2018.

Next week, the group will be hosting a meeting at the Silt Branch Library, from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, for anyone looking for more information on suicide and prevention.

“We want to have a place where people can come ask questions,” said Mason Hohstadt, public health specialist for Garfield County Public Health and chairman of the Garfield County Suicide Prevention Coalition.

Though Hohstadt said there may not be a common thread to the suicide spike in Garfield County in July, the coalition hopes to gather and show individuals and families that there are local resources available to those that need them.

He said location selection will hopefully make the meeting more accessible for Silt families and individuals, since that’s the community that seems to be most affected.

During the meeting, health professionals will go over warning signs to be aware of when someone may be on the path of suicide.

“The first thing to do if you’re worried about someone is to reach out to them,” according to a press release from the coalition.

“Ask them how they are doing. Tell them why you are concerned about them.

“Next, ask them directly if they ever had thoughts of hurting or killing themselves,” states the press release.

Mental health and major behavior changes can be warning signs for those thinking about suicide, according to the coalition. These include periods of stress, depression, anger and isolation and abnormal sleeping patterns. Individuals may also begin to engage in risky activities such as drinking or doing drugs.

“These individuals may also begin to make comments about not going on, or your family being better without you,” Hohstadt said in the release.

“Point blank: asking someone who isn’t suicidal if they are going to kill themselves will not put that idea in their head, and for those who may be having thoughts of suicide, avoidance of the topic may be most detrimental,” the coalition emphasizes in its statement.

Hohstadt said the Aug. 8 meeting will be informal, and that he hopes to see individuals from all walks of life attend.

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