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El Paso County teen suicide rate doubles, Colorado AG's report shows

Posted 01/4/2019

By Debbie Kelley

While death by suicide among 19- to 24-year-olds in El Paso County has been declining since reaching a high in 2014, the number doubled among those 18 and under, according to a study Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman released Thursday.

Suicide deaths in the 10-18 age group jumped from 24 in 2012-2014 to 48 in 2015-2017. Contributing factors, the study said, included desensitization to the value of life, a large gap between today’s teens and adults, cyber bullying and pressure to perform.

Nearly half of El Paso County teens age 18 and under who have taken their lives used a gun, according to the data.

In releasing the findings of the study, “Community Conversations to Inform Youth Suicide Prevention,” Coffman called death by suicide “a public health crisis” that “too many families in our state have faced.”

Colorado consistently ranks among the top 10 states with the highest suicide rates. More Coloradans die by suicide than by homicide, motor vehicle crash, diabetes and breast cancer, Coffman said, and it is the second-leading cause of death for ages 10-34.

The $173,000 study, funded by the Attorney General’s Office and conducted by Health Management Associates, began in December 2017.

The process included focus groups, community input and data to analyze and characterize trends and patterns in fatal and nonfatal suicidal behaviors among young people in the four Colorado counties with the highest rates of youth suicide: El Paso, La Plata, Mesa and Pueblo.

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