Experts: Colorado is seeing a spike in suicidal calls

Counselors say more teens may be considering suicide.

KUSA - Experts with suicide prevention groups in Colorado say they're seeing a drastic spike in suicidal calls lately.

Four teenagers in Colorado took their own lives in the past 10 days, according to Bev Marquez with Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners. The latest suicide was reported on May 4th in Denver.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Colorado ranks 3rd in the nation for suicides in ages 10-14.

The City of Longmont is tackling the issue after dealing with a series of teen suicides in the past.

In 2014, the nearby town of Frederick had three students take their own lives in the span of two weeks.

"It just seems like it happened out of nowhere. It broke our community," says Samantha Modesitt, a high school student in Longmont.

Samantha Modesitt and Madison Reed are high school students who are a part of Longmont's Youth Council, a youth advisory group to Longmont City Council, that helps minors in the community in various ways. The council created the "Youth Art Competition" for teenagers with hopes of encouraging individuals affected by suicide.

"It's a way to show them they're not at the end, there's another way to go and the community is here to support them," Reed says.

Longmont was also awarded a grant by the Colorado Health Foundation to train up to 2,000 community members on how to deal with suicidal people and behaviors. Olga Bermudez, a counselor with Longmont's Children, Youth and Families Department, said the need is critical.

"We as a city needed to do something but we couldn't do it alone," Bermudez says, "In the past, I used to do suicide assessments maybe once a month. Now, in the last couple of months I'm doing 2-3 a week."

Experts say they're seeing a fairly new trend: multiple teens in the same area are killing themselves around the same time. Officials have termed it: suicide contagion.

"It spreads to other youths and their peers start thinking about the same thing," Bermudez says, "It's like a snowball, one person starts thinking about it, another person considers the same thing."

Experts say teenagers generally don't know how to cope with frustration and compare themselves to each other on social media. They believe those may be contributing factors to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Counselors receive the highest number of calls this time of year, Marquez said.

RMCP reports the number of suicidal calls skyrocketed in the past couple of months with up to 700 people calling a day. Safe2Tell reports there has been a 75% increase in suicidal calls in April of this year compared to April of 2016.

Entries for the Youth Art Competition are due by 5 p.m. on May 10th. You can find details here: https://www.longmontcolorado.gov/departments/departments-a-d/children-youth-and-families/youth-development/youth-council/youth-council-art-contest

You can reach Colorado Crisis Services by calling this number: 844-493-8255 (TALK). You can also text the word "TALK" to 38255 to reach a counselor.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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