Colorado teen suicide rate nearly twice national average

GOLDEN, Colo. -- Colorado's teenage suicide rate is nearly twice the national average.

Out of every 100,000 teenagers in the United States who are 15 to 19 years old, 8.9 commit suicide.

In Colorado, that number nearly doubles to 17.6, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It was shocking and scary," said Shawna Fritzler after she learned how many teenagers deal with depression and suicidal thoughts.

Her daughter is a freshman at Lakewood High School. But they learned about this issue a few years ago.

"She got a text from one of her friends who told her she was thinking about committing suicide -- and she was 12," Fritzler said.

Fritzler and her daughter helped the friend get help through Safe2Tell, a confidential and anonymous way for students, parents, teachers and more to report concerns about everything from suicide to school shootings and more.

In the past four years, student suicide reports have jumped more than 400 percent.

That's in part what prompted Fritzler to join Jefferson County School District's Safety and Security Community Task Force.

It's a team of 50 people, including parents, teachers, law enforcement officers and more, who spent months coming up with a plan about how to keep schools and students safe, on all accords.

"Self-harm is something we’re really concerned about. We see far too much of it," said John McDonald, the Jefferson County School District's security expert.

"Kids are doing and engaged in behavior today that's more risky than ever before."

The task force came up with dozens of recommendations for schools, including making sure most windows are coated with security film and most doors have locks that work from the inside.

It also is recommending schools have more psychologists and social workers, and it wants the district to train all employees -- from bus drivers to electricians and custodians -- to notice the warning signs of depression, suicidal thoughts and more in students.

"Not only are they our babies we love," Fritzler said. "They’re our entire future workforce, they are the future of Colorado."

Suicide resources

If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or depression, the following resources are available:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255): Speak with someone who will provide free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn how to help someone in crisis, call the same number.

Colorado Crisis Services Hotline (1-844-493-8255): If you are in crisis or need help dealing with one, call 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255 to speak to a trained professional. When calling Colorado Crisis Services, you will be connected to a crisis counselor or trained professional with a master’s or doctoral degree.

The Trevor Project (1-866-488-7386): A 24/7 resource for LGBT youth struggling with a crisis or suicidal thoughts. The line is staffed by trained counselors.

Colorado Crisis Services Walk-In Locations: Walk-in crisis service centers are open 24/7, and offer confidential, in-person crisis support, information and referrals to anyone in need.

Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: (1-844-264-5437): The best resource for readers to report suspected child abuse and neglect.

The number serves as a direct, immediate and efficient route to all Colorado’s 64 counties and two tribal nations, which are responsible for accepting and responding to child abuse and neglect concerns. All callers are able to speak with a call-taker 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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