Colorado schools will soon divide $400,000 into small grants to pay for suicide-prevention training for all campus employees, including teachers, front-desk attendants and custodians. The training, supporters say, is designed to bolster the fight against a rising tide of suicides by youths.
The school training grants -- from $5,000 to $10,000 -- will be available in January and must be used to train all school personnel on the warning signs of impending suicide attempts, diffuse crisis situations and connect troubled people to mental health services.
The grants were authorized through Senate Bill 272 which was co-sponsored by Republican Beth Martinez Humenik of Thornton and Democrat Nancy Todd of Aurora. It got bipartisan support and passed just before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that suicide rates in Colorado saw a 34.1 percent increase between 1999 and 2016.
In Colorado, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for people ages 10-24. And it’s mostly because youths today face unprecedented pressures from modern society and social media, Shannon Hawley said.
“I believe our youth are under so much pressure to try and fit in,” said Hawley, a former gang member who tried to commit suicide by cop in Greeley and founded a suicide-prevention group.
“Suicide does not discriminate on age,” Hawley said. “We have 10- and 11-year-old babies who are taking their own lives.”
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment gets $539,000 in state money for suicide prevention for all age groups, as well as $736,000 from a five-year federal grant to reduce youth suicide in eight Colorado counties, including Pueblo and El Paso.
Attorney General Cynthia Coffman also started a $173,000 effort that will analyze the trends and patterns in youth suicide behavior in four counties with the highest rates of youth suicide: Pueblo, El Paso, La Plata and Mesa.
The school grants are important because they will be seed money for larger efforts aimed at suicide prevention in schools over the next several years, said Sarah Brummett, director of the office of suicide prevention at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
By Monte Whaley
The Denver Post
Posted Jun 24, 2018 at 12:01 AM | Updated Jun 24, 2018 at 8:14 PM