Coalition forms to prevent suicide in Vail Valley |

Coalition forms to prevent suicide in Vail Valley

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –Dr. Casey Wolfington said the Bright Future Foundation’s crisis hotline in Colorado’s Vail Valley is getting more calls about suicide than ever before.

That hotline is mainly for domestic violence victims, but volunteers for the Eagle County organization are also trained to talk about suicide, she said. The Bright Future Foundation is a nonprofit that helps victims of domestic violence.

The Avon Police Department says it wants to lead the way to suicide awareness and prevention in Eagle County with it’s “We Care” program. Suicide kills more people in Colorado than car crashes, according to a recent report by The Colorado Trust and Mental Health America of Colorado.

Eagle County, as happy and beautiful as it may appear, has its fair share of suicides and attempts.

Lt. Greg Daly is leading the prevention campaign, which includes a public forum in late August and a mission to create a suicide prevention coalition.

“A lot of people are working together, but separately,” Daly told Avon Town Council members at its Tuesday meeting. “We want to educate people to prevent as many suicides as we can.”

Daly said suicide rates are up in the county this year compared to previous years – there have been seven suicides through July 14, whereas previous years didn’t have that many for the entire year.

“As a police officer, I’ve gone to too many suicide scenes and too many attempted suicides,” he said.

Avon police officers finished crisis intervention training in June – training that will help them talk to people threatening or attempting suicide when they respond to a call, Daly said.

The police department’s public forum will have professional counselors and other experts available to talk about suicide. The forum, Aug. 20, will have private areas where people can get personal advice or information, he said.

The coalition already has interested and knowledgeable members, as representatives from the Bright Future Foundation, the Eagle River Youth Coalition and Colorado West Mental Health all came to the Tuesday Avon meeting to support the town’s mission.

Cristina Gair, executive director of the Eagle River Youth Coalition, wants to focus on local youth. She said the most recent local survey in 2007-08 showed that 11 percent of Eagle County youth had attempted suicide in the last year.

“I would like to bring (the education and prevention) to more schools,” Gair said. “I think some schools don’t quite understand the severity of what’s going on.”

Colorado West Mental Health Director Krista McClinton said there hasn’t been enough funding in the past for suicide prevention. Colorado West has partnered with agencies to train people to recognize suicide risks, and also help teach the community about the warning signs.

Daly hopes more organizations will join together to help reduce the suicide rate in the county.

“We’d like to be the champions of putting a coalition together county-wide,” Daly said.

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