Colorado park staff get training in suicide prevention
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado ” Colorado National Monument in western Colorado has been training staff at entrances and visitor centers in suicide prevention.
Twenty-seven people attempted suicide there last year, and two succeeded, Park Superintendent Joan Anzelmo said Friday. About 700,000 people visit the park each year.
The park neighbors Mesa County, where the suicide rate is roughly twice the national average.
On Wednesday, park staff rescued a 34-year-old man who drove off a cliff. The location and a park investigation indicate he was trying to commit suicide, but his van got stuck on a rock outcropping, Anzelmo said.
Park rangers have received training on suicide prevention for a few years. Since Anzelmo became superintendent in 2007, she has expanded hours of operation at the entrance station, and gate staff and staff at visitor centers are receiving training on the warning signs of suicide.
Signs that someone may be suicidal include not making eye contact, acting despondent, looking at the ground, being unwilling to communicate or looking somewhat disheveled, said Sheila Linwood, executive director of the Western Colorado Suicide Prevention Coalition.
“Just their whole nature there. Is (there) something off that causes you concern?” Linwood said.
She said suicide prevention requires the help of everyone in the community, and it’s important to talk to someone who may be contemplating the act.
“We cannot wait for professionals, because this person may never see a professional for help,” Linwood said.