Eagle County sees spike in suicide deaths; coroner reports 11 thus far in 2017 | VailDaily.com

Eagle County sees spike in suicide deaths; coroner reports 11 thus far in 2017

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EAGLE COUNTY — In 2017, Eagle County has seen more suicide deaths than in any other year since the creation of SpeakUp ReachOut in 2009.

The Colorado Violent Death Reporting System shows Eagle County suffered 35 suicide deaths between 2010 and 2015. Annually, Eagle County sees between four and seven deaths by suicide, but there have been 11 deaths by suicide in 2017, according to the Eagle County Coroner's Office.

Substance abuse, including of alcohol, prescription and illegal drugs, continues to be strongly associated with suicides. While opiate use is dominating the national media headlines, there are several times as many suicide deaths than deaths from unintentional opiate overdose, according to Susan Marie, advocacy chair of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado.

"In 2016, there were 269 deaths caused by opiate overdose statewide, with one or two deaths occurring in Eagle County, yet there were 1,156 deaths by suicide across the state," said Chris Lindley, Eagle County public health director, citing information from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

"Clearly our national leaders must not be aware of this data, otherwise I would expect a massive public outcry for mental health services like we are now seeing for the opioid crisis. I applaud the national conversations on opioids but am disappointed we have yet to mention mental illness, which occurs randomly and not by personal choice, regardless of socioeconomic status, education and ethnicity."

SpeakUp ReachOut's mission is to prevent suicide in Eagle County through education, training and hope, offering prevention, intervention and loss-support services. If you or anyone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 (TALK).