Breaking down hurdles to therapy
EAGLE COUNTY – Fifteen percent of local high school students who took a survey in 2009 said they had seriously considered suicide.
Yet for many local kids, therapy is out of reach.
Local therapist Stacey Horn is on a mission to make sure kids who are thinking about suicide can afford to get help. She recently took over the local branch of the Second Wind Fund, a Denver-based program that provides free therapy sessions to children 19 and younger.
“I want to make sure every person who comes into contact with kids at high risk for suicide knows this resource is available,” she said.
The Second Wind Fund provides up to eight free therapy sessions for uninsured children or kids with inadequate insurance. Without special funding, professional counseling sessions can cost $100 each. Even insured kids might wind up paying $25 to $45 in copays for each visit, Horn said.
“Most families can’t afford that,” she said.
The Second Wind Fund started in Denver in 2002 after four teens from Green Mountain High School committed suicide in a single year, Second Wind co-founder Jeff Lamontagne said.
“Almost every year, there’s a school with multiple suicides in metro Denver,” he said. “It’s not talked about a lot but it happens.”
Here in the valley, suicide is more prevalent among adults than kids. Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis said she sees no more than one or two child cases per year.
Yet statistics alone fail to tell the whole story.
Avon Police Lt. Greg Daly, a member of the local suicide prevention group, said many suicide attempts happen under the radar.
“There is a national statistic that says for every one reported suicide attempt, there are six that go unreported,” he said.
Horn hopes to break down the financial barriers between children and the help they need. She puts troubled kids in touch with the six therapists in the valley who have agreed to treat suicidal youths at a reduced rate through Second Wind. Most of the referrals to the program come from school counselors.
Since Horn started the job in mid-December, she has helped two local teens get treatment. About five more kids received help through the program since it came to the valley about a year ago.
Although the program is gaining steam, its future is uncertain.
“I have a responsibility to do some fundraising,” she said. “Otherwise, the program will close in May.”
Horn, who works out of offices in Avon and Eagle, hopes the program can expand to adults in the future. Of the 15 reported suicides in Eagle County over the past two years, all were adults.
“Adult men ages 23 to 45 are high risk,” Horn said.
Contact Horn at 970-401-1946.
Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.