NewsCovering Colorado


El Paso County leads the state in suicide rates, Attorney General backs new prevention plan

Attorney General Phil Weiser announces his support for suicide prevention plan in El Paso county.
Posted at 12:05 AM, Mar 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 10:15:18-05

EL PASO COUNTY — The state of Colorado has one of the highest suicide rates in the country, with the CDC ranking it seventh in the nation in 2020.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Phil Weiser came to Colorado Springs to express his support for the Community Suicide Prevention and Response Plan.

"Behind every life that we lose of a young person, is a story of a family, is a story of unfulfilled promise," said Weiser.

The plan was developed by the Suicide Prevention Collaborative of El Paso County (the Collaborative) and is meant to implement evidenced-based strategies to reduce the rate of suicide.

Betty and Kevin Van Thournout lost their 26-year old son to suicide in 2014. The couple now runs a support group, the Heartbeat Survivors after Suicide.

"We just want people to know they're not alone, that there are others who know how they feel, others who have walked the path that they are walking," said Betty.

According to the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, middle school and high school students reported the poorest level of mental health in El Paso county compared to anywhere else in the state.

"Suicide has been put into their backpack as a tool of coping and we need to find a way to take it out," said Betty.

The Community Suicide Prevention and Response plan will implement suicide prevention strategies in schools, businesses, military installations, and faith-based groups.

It also aims to educate people on safely securing firearms, the most commonly used method of suicide.

The plan is funded mostly from the Colorado Department Public Health and Environment Office of Suicide Prevention, plus the Colorado Springs Health Foundation.

Microgrants will be made available in El Paso county and guidelines will be released on March 11.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please contact the Colorado Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255.

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