Mesa County suicide rates hit all time high
The Mesa County Coroners office just released new suicide statistics for our area and the numbers are concerning.
Mesa County is seeing a record number of people taking their own lives.
The report shows suicide rates reached an all time high in Mesa County last year.
The numbers seem to be raising questions, as mental health experts try to figure out why so many people on the western slope are taking their own lives.
"Since we've been keeping electronic record, it is the utmost high we've had," said Kim Hollingshead, the Chief Deputy Coroner of Mesa County.
47 people took their own lives last year in Mesa County, a grim number that's never before been reached, but Hollingshead says with most suicides... the warning signs are there.
"The person has expressed suicidal ideations previously, up to about 40% of the people that have committed suicide," added Hollingshead
The rate of suicide in Mesa County is now three times the national average.
President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Leslie Kent, thinks the attitudes of Mesa County residents may contribute to our high suicide rate.
"I'm thinking that people here on the western slope, do have that attitude of we're just going to buck up, we're going to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and we're just going to get through it. We're dealing with stigma, nobody wants to go to the doctors and be diagnosed with a mental health disorder," said Kent.
"Why we're experiencing high suicide rate is kind of the 64 thousand dollar question. There’s a lot of studies going on whether it's the wild west spirit, where it's the availability of guns, we even have some studies looking at whether it's our oxygen level that contributes to the demise of people living here," explained Hollingshead.
But while experts have different ideas on what may cause the higher rates in our area, both Hollingshead and Kent agree that education and awareness can help reverse a disturbing trend.
"What we need to do is a better job help those people surrounding the suicidal person to know how to respond and what actions to take," said Hollingshead.
Kent added, "90% of people who either die of suicide or attempt suicide, are un-diagnosed or diagnosed with a mental health disorder. That's why mental health education is so very important."
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