DENVER - More Coloradans died by suicide in 2012 than ever before.
The state's suicide death toll has been climbing for the past decade, giving Colorado one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. In 2012, 1,053 Coloradans completed suicide, representing a rate of 19.7 per 100,000 people. That's the highest number in Colorado history and a 15.8 percent increase from 2011.
"Far too many Coloradans struggle with thoughts of suicide, and far too many die when they are unable to manage debilitating mental, emotional or physical pain," Jarrod Hindman, manager of the Office of Suicide Prevention at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said. "But suicide can be prevented. There are resources available for individuals and families in crisis, and many who struggle with suicidal thoughts go on to lead hopeful, happy and productive lives."
Suicide is an indiscriminate killer in Colorado. While many more men than women die by suicide, the suicide rate also has increased for women, in most Colorado counties and for nearly every age group.
Among Coloradans aged 20-64 years, suicides rates increased 16.7 percent, from 23.4 per 100,000 adults to 27.3 per 100,000 in 2012. The only age groups to experience a decrease, however slight, were teenagers and older seniors. The number of suicide deaths for young people aged 15-19 years decreased from 43 to 41 deaths and the number of suicides for seniors 75 years and older decreased from 54 to 53.
Men still account for the greatest number of suicides, with 810 of last year's 1,053 deaths. But the suicide death rate for women is on pace with that of men, increasing 18 percent, from 207 deaths in 2011 to 243 in 2012.
The Office of Suicide Prevention leads the state's suicide prevention and intervention efforts, collaborating with communities statewide to reduce the burden of suicide in Colorado. Prevention efforts and funding historically have focused on reducing youth suicide rates, with some success. Two new initiatives - ManTherapy and Means Restriction Education - also show promise.
ManTherapy.org is an online resource using "manspeak" and humor to target men at risk for depression and suicide. A fictional Dr. Rich Mahogany cuts through the stigma of mental health with wit, straight talk and practical advice. In ManTherapy's first year, 273,113 people from across the United States visited the award-winning site and 31,744 completed a self-assessment for depression and suicidal thoughts, anger, anxiety and substance use.
Another Colorado suicide prevention effort focuses on educating Coloradans on the importance of reducing suicidal individuals' access to lethal means. The Means Restriction Education initiative works with emergency room personnel, families and other care givers to make sure suicidal patients don't have access to firearms, prescription medications and other lethal means of completing suicide.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273- TALK (8255), where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
September is Suicide Prevention Month, and Sept. 10 is International Suicide Prevention Day. To learn more about statewide and local suicide prevention programs and events, visit the Office of Suicide Prevention Website or the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado.