DENVER -- September 10th through 16th marks National Suicide Prevention Week. Colorado has one of the highest rates of suicide in the nation, averaging about three deaths from suicide every day.
Mental Health Colorado President and CEO Andrew Romanoff lost his cousin to suicide in 2015. Since then he has made it his mission to spare other families the anguish his family has experienced.
"What gets me up in the morning the notion that we don’t have to accept the status quo we can do something. In fact we could make Colorado a national leader in the prevention and treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders instead of the national leader in suicide," says Romanoff.
He says the three keys to preventing suicide are spotting the warning signs, acting quickly, and seeking help. There are a number of resources listed on the Mental Health Colorado website. Colorado also operates a 24/7 crisis and counseling line 844-493-TALK (8255). You an also text 38255 and have a conversation with a peer specialist or trained clinician via text message.
Romanoff says there's a myth that people who are intent on ending their lives can't be dissuaded. He says more often, this is a cry for help.
"The truth is mental illness is a medical condition and it’s treatable, early intervention is the key."
Teenage suicide is also a growing concern in Colorado. In August, two teenagers in Arapahoe County took their own lives.
"When you ask about teen suicide the most important intervention we could pursue is to put a trained mental health professional in every single school. We’ve got too many kids slipping through the cracks , even though we know the symptoms of mental illness usually appear during adolesense," says Romanoff.
Romanoff says it's important to restrict access to the "means" of suicide, like weapons and drugs. Family members who are concerned about a loved one should intervene early, and check in frequently.