The combined suicide rate in Moffat and Routt County is 10 per year, three times that of the national average.
Reaching Everyone Preven-ting Suicide (REPS) is trying to change that.
Throughout November, REPS is launching a valley-wide campaign to raise awareness that depression is a major public health problem affecting millions of people annually.
On Nov. 15, the group will bring a grassroots campaign, the Yellow Ribbon campaign, to Craig. From Nov. 13 to 15, the campaign also will make stops at Steamboat Springs High School, Hayden High School, Soroco High School and Lowell Whiteman.
To give students a silent method of reaching out for help, REPS and the Yellow Ribbon campaign visit schools and hand out Yellow Ribbon Cards containing information. The recipients of these cards should use the information to contact help for the person who gave them the card.
Sara Ross, who works for the Steamboat Mental Health Center and REPS, said spreading the word to teachers and the community is important.
"A community member might get a card and they need to know what to do with it," Ross said.
Colorado residents Dar and Dale Emme created the system with the help of friends after losing their teenage son to suicide in 1994. Following their son's death, his friends asked themselves how they could prevent this from happening to other teens.
According to a REPS informational packet, the program contains the following components: training and education of school personnel about suicide prevention and the Yellow Ribbon card, outreach in the community to make people aware of the Yellow Ribbon card, youth presentations by Dar and Dale Emme in schools, with participation by mental health professionals and distribution of Yellow Ribbon "Ask for Help" cards to students.
Sara Ross can be reached at the Steamboat Mental Health center at 879-2141.
"It's preventable and that's what's sad," Ross said.
John Henry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or firstname.lastname@example.org.