PUEBLO — Pueblo County’s Suicide Prevention Coalition is in the middle of launching their response team, aiming to get their services more available throughout the community.
“Families just really need somebody who understands. Somebody who’s not going to judge them, who’s going to be honest, just someone to really listen," said Heather Pelser, Coordinator of the coalition.
Pueblo County traditionally has one of the highest rates of suicide in the state. According to the Colorado Vital Statistics Program, suicide counts in Pueblo county have been on an overall rise from 2004 to 2019. However, even with the pandemic, Pelser says suicide rates in the county remained “the exact same” within the last year.
Erik Segall is an author in Pueblo, writing about his experiences working for the suicide- crisis hotlines. He started taking calls at Saint Mary Corwin back in the 70s, before the program moved up to Denver.
“Probably the most rewarding experience of my life, and the most challenging. It’s that fine line there," said Segall.
He says regardless of the fact that suicide did not rise over the course of the past year, now is the perfect time for the response force to get started.
“This is when we need it the most. This is the time. Right in the middle of the pandemic, what’s happening in the nation’s Capitol and people feeling scared, alone and isolated," said Segall.
According to Pelser, the response force will work closely with a variety of organizations, including first responders, funeral homes, and ACOVA to provide families dealing with suicide any resources they may need. The coalitions website launched earlier this week. On top of that, they have been handing out stickers in bulk to restaurants to spread awareness of the organization.
The response team is expected to officially launch at the beginning of February.