Reaching everyone

Campaign developed to combat suicide problem

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The sad fact is this: on average, 12 people in Moffat and Routt counties will commit suicide each year. Local prevention specialists contend that's 12 people higher than it should be.

"We are averaging six in each county each year," said Lisa Foley, an office coordinator with Steamboat Springs Mental Health Center and a suicide prevention coordinator with Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide. "A lot of it is because of untreated depression."

REPS, an arm of Steamboat Springs and Craig mental health centers, is a volunteer agency that serves Moffat and Routt counties. It was founded in 2004 behind a four-year, $2.6 million Colorado Trust grant to address the growing problem of suicides across the state.

Depression, REPS contends, is highly treatable and "more than 80 percent of people who seek help can be successfully treated."

To help combat the problem, REPS launched a new fundraising campaign Wednesday in both counties it serves.

The "Donation Ink" campaign is designed to raise money for REPS advertising, Foley said. It will last indefinitely, she said, with a goal of raising $136 per week.

The campaign entails businesses filling small kiosks with old ink cartridges and cell phones. The cartridges and cell phones are then sent to Littleton, home of fundraising through recycling group.

REPS raises about $14 per kiosk.

The money goes toward paying for REPS advertising in Moffat and Routt counties, which in turn may help more depressed people learn of local treatment options available to them.

"We feel like any exposure REPS can get is greatly helpful," Foley said.

Although the program is newly launched, REPS has only four businesses with kiosks, none of which are in Craig. There are two in Steamboat Springs and two in Walden, Foley said.

"That's what we're trying to do - get some in Craig," she said.

Once kiosks are full, a REPS volunteer will pick it up and replace it with an empty one. REPS is promoting the campaign as "an easy, year round way to raise funding.

REPS is one of 10 organizations serving 31 Colorado counties to provide suicide education and awareness, refer at-risk residents for screenings and offer therapy and counseling.

If anyone knows someone suffering from depression and feeling suicidal, they should call the Craig Mental Health Center at 824-6541 or the Steamboat Springs Mental Health Center at 879-2141.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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