From: The Denver Post
The number of suicides spiked in Weld County last year, with an increase of more than 50 percent over the county's 10-year average.
"It is kind of a surprise just because we keep track of it every year and the yearly average is 32. This last year it was 49. It may be lower than the state average, but it is quite a spike for our county," said Kelly Campbell, Weld County health department injury prevention coordinator.
Weld County's suicide rate of 15.2 per 100,000 people is lower than the statewide rate of 19.7 per 100,000, Campbell said. But it is higher than the 2010 national rate, the most recent available, of 12.1 per 100,000.
Stressful life events, social isolation, economic strain and financial crises can push someone who is vulnerable to suicide over the edge, said Shannon Breitzman, Prevention Services Division director of the state health department.
And normal coping mechanisms that keep people from killing themselves can be compromised by mental disorder, substance abuse and other risk factors, Breitzman said.
It is unknown what caused the escalation in suicides in Weld County this year, Campbell said.
Depression is the leading risk factor for suicide, North Range Behavioral Health clinician Kimberly Pratt said.
Weld's announcement follows a report last year that found in 2012, 1,053 people in Colorado committed suicide, up about 16 percent from the year before and the highest number ever recorded in the state.
In 2010, Colorado's suicide rate was eighth highest in the nation, Breitzman said.
Attitudes in Colorado that place a high value on independence, can make it difficult for some people — especially men — to reach out for help, Breitzman said.
Eighty percent of those who killed themselves in Weld County were male.
The largest number of victims, 27, were between the ages of 40 and 64, Campbell said. Four of the suicides were between the ages of 10 and 19; six were between 20 and 29; 12 were between 30 and 39; and 12 were between 40 and 49.
There are differences in the way men and women commit suicide. Between 2007 and 2011, 55.7 percent of men who killed themselves used a firearm, while only 25.2 percent of women suicides used a gun, Breitzman said.
"We are trying to get the message out there that if you know somebody suffering from depression or who has said they plan to do it, make sure they don't have the means to do it," Campbell said. "If there is a gun in the house, you want to keep it out of the hands of someone who is at risk."
- Priority Target Areas
- Priority Risk and Protective Factors