"We're asking people to wear yellow and gray not only to raise awareness about suicide, but to convey a message of hope," said C-SEAP Director Randi Wood. "We want to visibly demonstrate to those suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts that we support them on their journey from darkness to light."
State employees can pick up a free yellow and gray ribbon sticker and access other important informational resources between 8 and 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10 at C-SEAP's offices, 1525 Sherman St. Stickers will also be handed out to visitors at the Colorado State Capitol on Wednesday morning.
The national theme for this year's suicide prevention efforts is connectedness. Everyone is invited to help raise suicide awareness by posting photos of their yellow and gray outfits and ribbons via social media venues using the hashtags #suicideprevention and #COconnected.
Also on Sept. 10, people are encouraged to light a candle in a window to raise awareness and remember those lost to suicide, or attend a candle-lighting ceremony hosted by the Carson J Spencer Foundation from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m. at Denver Union Station.
In 2013, suicide ranked above motor vehicle accidents as the number one injury-related cause of death in the state. CDPHE reports that Colorado regularly ranks in the top 10 states annually for suicides.
Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a proclamation designating the week of Sept. 7 through 13, 2014, as Suicide Prevention Week. The proclamation indicates that many Coloradans are struggling to cope with the pressures of mental illness, a stressed economy, substance abuse or other factors that render them thinking suicide is their only alternative.
CDPHE offers all Colorado citizens assistance through the Suicide Prevention Lifeline -- an online and telephone resource to help those in a suicide crisis. "One of the major challenges facing those who suffer from mental illness or substance abuse is the stigma that is associated with seeking help," said Jarrod Hindman, director of the CDPHE's Office of Suicide Prevention. "We need to reduce the social pressure that keeps some from seeking life-saving assistance, and recognize this as a winnable battle."
C-SEAP offers no cost, confidential counseling services for State employees and their families at locations throughout the state. Individual services include drug and alcohol, work and family, couples/relationship, domestic violence, stress, and grief or loss counseling and can be accessed at www.colorado.gov/cseap or by calling 1-800-821-8154. State employees may also have additional coverage through their health benefits provider. The State Employee Wellness Program has also incorporated mental health into an online program for employees.
"The State believes that early intervention and counseling can help reverse the trend of suicidal thoughts and actions, and we intend to educate as many State employees as we can about suicide prevention," said Wood.
Colorado also recently opened its first statewide mental health hotline, the Colorado Crisis and Support Line. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides crisis counseling and resource referral from trained professionals and peer specialists for Coloradans experiencing a mental health crisis or with a loved one in crisis. The toll-free number is 844-493-TALK (8255).
"One of our most promising suicide prevention strategies is to 'get upstream,'" said Sally Spencer-Thomas, CEO and Co-Founder of the Carson J Spencer Foundation. "Programs the State is implementing -- like the Working Minds program -- encourage working-aged people to think about their problems in a different way, before problems become catastrophic."
For more information on suicide prevention, please visit the following resources:
Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado at www.suicidepreventioncolorado.org
- Online or telephone hotline at:www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- C-SEAP (for state government employees) at www.colorado.gov/cseap
- CDPHE Office of Suicide Prevention at www.coosp.org
- Statewide mental health hotline, 844-493-TALK (8255)
- Carson J Spencer Foundation at www.carsonjspencer.org