Moffat County suicides drop to zero; access to care increasing, barriers still remain
CRAIG — No one has died as the result of suicide in Moffat County this year, and only one death by suicide has been recorded for the year in Routt County.
“This is a historical low,” said Mindy Marriott, executive director of Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide, which works to prevent suicide in the Yampa Valley.
In Moffat County, between 2004 and 2016, there were 50 deaths by suicide. During the same time period, there were 72 deaths by suicide in Routt County.
“When you compare rates per 100,000 people, it historically gives Northwest Colorado one of the highest rates of death by suicide in Colorado,” Marriott said.
Though this year’s statistics are positive, people in Moffat County are still struggling with access to care, which acts as a barrier to treatment.
“Since August, about every third or fourth day, we have someone taken to the hospital with suicide ideology or someone who has attempted suicide,” said Crime Victim Services Coordinator and Advocate Dan Bingham.
The 2017 Colorado Health Access Survey identified a number of barriers to care, including lack of insurance, misunderstanding as to coverage, concerns about the cost of treatment, difficulty getting an appointment, discomfort talking about it with a provider and/or concern of someone finding out.
“In rural communities, if mental health offices are in a place, and people know what your car looks like, they may avoid care so as not to be identified as seeking care,” said policy analyst Teresa Manocchio during a presentation of the survey results.
She said many communities are co-locating behavioral health care and primary care.
Beginning in November, and for the first time in Moffat County, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, or ASSIST, volunteers will work in the hospital emergency department through a new program, SPA — Suicide Prevention Advocates — a partnership between REPS and Memorial Regional Health.
“They will come to the emergency department anytime the staff calls them and needs their support to act as a patient advocate,” Marriott said.
Bingham is optimistic that ongoing education, awareness and training offered by REPS will continue to help overcome barriers.
“I think the more people that know, the better off everyone is. The most important thing that we can do for our friends, family and neighbors is to listen better, because those little red flags are there,” he said.
Many REPS programs are offered free in Moffat County, thanks to grant support provided by Moffat County United Way.
QPR — Question, Persuade, Refer — ASSIST, counseling support services and the Colorado Gun Shop Program — which helps gun sellers keep lethal weapons from people struggling with mental health issues — are four such programs.
“Many organizations are coming to the realization that this type of awareness is what saves lives,” Marriott said.
To learn more or schedule a training, contact REPS at 970-819-2232 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts or know someone who may be can receive help 24 hours per day, seven days per week by contacting one of the following groups.
• Mind Springs Health Local Crisis Hotline — 888-207-4004
• Colorado Crisis Services Statewide Hotline — 844-493-TALK(8255)
• 24/7 Text Line — text TALK to 38255
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.