Suicide prevention group meets Thursday

Yampa Valley averages one suicide per month, a staggering number when compared to the population, suicide prevention coordinator Sara Ross said.

Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide is a Yampa Valley coalition focused on helping to reduce or eliminate that statistic, she said.

There has been a suicide prevention coalition in place for the past seven years, and every month since its inception two years ago REPS has hosted a meeting aimed at providing suicide awareness and prevention. That trend continues noon Thursday at the Craig Mental Health Center.

Ross said about 10 members of the community attend the meeting each month.

"It's community members concerned about this issue" Ross added. "People from hospitals and the police department (attend)."

"Kids from (Moffat County High School) come to the meetings, too."

REPS has been working on a campaign that will come through northwest Colorado schools during the 2006-07 school year to increase awareness about suicide.

Ross said that it's good that people show up, but she would like to see more attendance at each meeting.

"I would like the entire community to be involved," she said. "There is always an open invitation."

Thursday's meeting will focus on preparing for a two-day training session next week. Tom Gangel, a member of REPS and the division director for the mental health center, is organizing the training session.

The two-day session, dubbed Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, or ASIST, teaches people how to handle someone contemplating suicide, he said.

"ASIST is designed to take anybody in the community to prepare them to help with a suicidal crisis," Gangel said.

The training session also helps people reach a comfort level when counseling a suicidal person and teaches first aid techniques, he added.

Gangel considers the program a crucial element of suicide awareness.

"We are finding in our counties the more people that know how to intervene with people who are having suicidal ideation, the sooner we will be able to have a good handle on the suicide rates in our county," Gangel said.

Gangel said anyone interested in signing up for the two-day training session should call Ross at 879-2141 for more information.

Dominic Graziano can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or dgraziano@craigdailypress.com.

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