DURANGO - This year alone 18 people in Durango died by suicide, according to the Durango School District. Now, the district says it wants to take action.
"It is a close-knit community," Julie Popp, Durango School District Public Information Officer said. "When one person dies by suicide, we all feel that and we all want to prevent that."
For years, one middle and one high school in the Durango School District have screened students for suicide. The district now plans to expand the suicide screening program to all students in the district in middle school or older.
"We're trying to be proactive in creating a culture of mental health," Sean Evans, Durango School District Coordinator of Health Services said. "Find ways to identify students that may be at risk so that we can get them the services that they need."
Evans says this is part of a community-wide collaborative effort to ramp up suicide prevention.
"In Durango, where they've really been affected by suicide, I think this is an example of a community that's doing anything they can," Cheri Skelding said.
Skelding is the Vice President of Operations for Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners. RMCP operates Colorado Crisis Services where people can call or text to get help with mental health issues.
"There's been a lot of discussion and some research done about doing screenings at schools to really try to have that early impact," Skelding said.
She appreciates any effort to address the issue of suicide sooner rather than later.
"Certainly, that would be the goal that we can have our interventions be more upstream so that people are getting that help they need before they're actually in crisis," Skelding said.
The Durango School District is also working with San Juan Public Health and the Attorney General's Safe2Tell program to address issues related to suicide like bullying and threats.
If you need to talk to someone about mental health issues, you can call Colorado Crisis Services at (844) 493-8255.
Popp says the hope is to save lives now and in the future in Durango.
"If we do talk about it and provide support services, then it is effective in reducing those rates," Popp said.
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