Learn to recognize signs of suicide | VailDaily.com

Learn to recognize signs of suicide

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – It is estimated that at least 5 million people in the United States have been directly affected by suicide.

Organizers of Eagle County’s local suicide coalition, Speak Up Reach Out, estimate a much higher percentage of the local population has been affected.

This week is Suicide Prevention Week, which is why Speak Up Reach Out is hosting training seminars for the community in order to help save lives.

Meredith Van Ness, the coordinator for Speak Up Reach Out, said the goal is to get as many local people trained in suicide prevention as possible because once a suicide happens, it’s too late.

“The classes are up to an hour, and you can learn what to look for and how to identify someone at risk for suicide,” she said.

While the organization has offered training in the past – about 500 people in the valley have gone through other, longer training programs over the past three years – this training program, called Question, Persuade and Refer, is new.

Speak Up Reach Out hopes more people will sign up because it’s only an hour and is less of a time commitment than other training seminars.

“Everyone has an hour in a week they can take to learn what to look for,” Van Ness said. “This training is designed for anyone and everyone.”

Eagle County’s suicide rate spiked in recent years as the economy slowed. About three years ago, when Speak Up Reach Out was formed, local psychologists and the Sheriff’s Office reported that suicides were happening about once a week on average.

While Vail Ness said that number has gone down, there are still higher-than-average rates in rural communities such as Eagle County when compared with state and national averages.

And suicides are also more common in working-age men between 25 and 54, she said.

“Experts believe that most suicidal people don’t want to die; they just want to end the pain they’re experiencing,” Van Ness said. “If the person gets the help they need, these numbers can be reduced.”

Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.

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