Area officials target suicide

Education may be the key to preventing suicides in Colorado. That's the focus of a group aimed at stemming suicide, which claims hundreds each year in the state.

"One of the big things is education," said Lt. John Forgay of the Craig Police Department, who is involved in the group Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide (REPS). "We want to enlist every person to be concerned about this problem."

An average of 600 people die each year from suicide in Colorado, according to a 2002 study by the Colorado Trust, a nonprofit, charitable organization. About 2,800 are hospitalized for attempting suicide each year and, many more, about 9,600, seriously contemplate taking their lives, according to the study.

"To combat suicide in Colorado we need to create broad-reaching, comprehensive strategies that involve others working on prevention along with all segments of our communities," said John Morgan, Jr., chief executive officer of the Colorado Trust.

REPS, a cooperative effort between Moffat and Routt counties, is funded by a grant through the Colorado Trust. The group's main goal is to increase intervention, Forgay said. Studies show that depression is the leading cause of suicide and suicide attempts.

"I've had friends of people who may have seen the signs (of someone contemplating suicide) but they didn't know exactly what to do," he said.

People who have drug and alcohol problems and are depressed are at an even higher risk of contemplating or committing suicide, Forgay said.

"When things seem to be really hopeless and you add that to depression, you have a bad mixture," he said.

REPS is seeking a resident who already has suicide-prevention training or is prepared to receive more during conferences in Denver to be able to teach others. It is called gatekeeper training.

Forgay said REPS members will visit service groups to spread the suicide prevention message. "Some people want to ignore it," he said, "but we want to open it up and make the whole community think about it so we can change it."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031.

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