Denver Post: Mental Health Crisis Survivors Offer Resources

Posted 06/14/2018

By Elizabeth Hernandez

More than 90 percent of people who have attempted suicide survive, according to the director of Colorado's Office of Suicide Prevention.

But the hope in knowing that so many of the millions of Americans who struggle with mental health issues go on to recovery can seem difficult to focus on amid tragedies such as this week's public deaths of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, said office director Sarah Brummett. But Colorado is taking steps to remind its residents that they are not alone in their battles: The state is pairing people in mental health crisis with survivors.

"We can't ignore that suicide is a very significant public health issue," Brummett said. "We do have higher rates of suicide in Colorado. Over 1,000 people die by suicide in our state each year, but the norm isn't suicide death. If that's all we focus on, we're missing out on an opportunity to tell the story of the universal human experience that we all struggle and fall down, but the norm is that people recover and get through it."

A report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed suicide rates increased in all but one state between 1999 and 2016. Suicide deaths in Colorado saw a 34.1 increase during the years studied. From 2006 to 2016, 10,256 people died by suicide in the state, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

A free, confidential, 24/7 resource for those seeking help is the Colorado Crisis Support Line, at 844-493-8255.

Reasons for calling including stress, anxiety, relationship problems, depression, substance abuse, bullying, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, grief, domestic violence, post-traumatic stress disorder, concerns for a friend or family member, homelessness and disability.

And the crisis line includes something rarely available outside Colorado: a peer-support line.

"Most states don't even have their own statewide hotline," said Jessica Stohlmann-Rainey, the support-line supervisor for Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners. "We are one of the only lines in the country that has a statewide, integrated peer support and crisis line."

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