Many counties across the state of Colorado have devoted themselves to addressing suicide prevention. They invest countless hours and many hands come together to do the work for their communities. Mesa county is one such county. One of Colorado National Collaborative counties, Mesa has numerous devoted community members who are making an impact. One piece that helps drive the work of suicide prevention work is data. Mesa County Public Health recently released their 2020 Suicide Report. Please be aware that we will be talking about ideation and death data, which may be triggering.
As we review the data presented in the 2020 Suicide Report, there is something important to keep in mind. While we are talking about numbers, these numbers represent very real people who made a meaningful difference in the world and the lives of those who loved them.
Per the report and its look at the impact of COVID-19, 2020 saw an increase over 2019 in youth attempts. However, there was no other significant changes in suicide deaths, ideation, or adult attempts. The report states that it “may reflect reluctance to visit health care facilities where this is recorded.”
The report indicates that five (5) youth died by suicide in 2020 in Mesa County and noted in increase in ideation in youth less than 18 years from 2019 to 2020.
When the report compared that rate of suicide deaths in Mesa County to the state of Colorado in 2020, Mesa County had a rate of 31.1 while Colorado had a rate of 22.3. To provide context, rate is different than count because rate is incidence per 100,000 and is used to adjust for population fluctuations.
The report also discusses Suicide Risk Screeners (SRS) that are administered when school personnel are worried about a student. Through this assessment, the level of intervention is determined and steps to create a safety plan can begin.
School District 51 provided their data for the school year 2019-2020 (August -May) for the report sharing that 930 screeners were administered compared to the previous school year, where 1,197 screeners were completed. Of the screens administered, about half were male with 8th grade being the grade with the highest number of screeners administered.
Looking at more of a qualitative data set, the report reveals the top four protective and risk factors.
- Healthy Activities
- Family Problems
- School Work
And finally, the report discusses the efforts that the community is engaging in to make strides in suicide prevention.
Two examples of the public health recommendations made within the report include: expanding access to suicide care and maintenance of educational programming to bring awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.
And finally, the prevention strategies based on the Colorado National Collaborative pillars highlight some the amazing efforts. When looking at the Increase Connectedness pillar, the report lists the Community Transformation Group (CTG) in Clifton and the Fruita Youth Initiative (FYI), and Fruita Youth action Council (FYAC) among others. The Access to Care pillar is exemplified by D51 using an enhanced suicide screening tool and the increase in training among staff.
The full report goes into more detail and provides visual representations of much of this data. We want to acknowledge the hard work that went into the report and the strides being made in the community through the work of many dedicated people.
To read the report in detail and see additional data please click here.