Attorney general: ‘We have a crisis on our hands’ when it comes to teen suicide

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DENVER – Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has declared a crisis in Colorado when it comes to teen suicide.

According to the CDC, Colorado teens are nearly twice as likely to take their own lives compared to teens in the rest of the country. Suicide is the leading cause of death for kids in Colorado between the ages of 10 to 14. The state also ranks 48th in terms of access to pediatric mental health care.

The Attorney General’s Office is supporting a new initiative to try and turn those statistics around.

“My office will provide 2.8 million dollars in funding to children’s hospital to launch a transformational initiative that will increase access to mental health services and support for young people,” Coffman said.

The money will be used to increase access to mental health services in rural parts of the state, it will help expand mental health screenings for children and every school district will have access to additional mental health resources.

It will also help provide earlier access to children experiencing mental health crises.

“My journey became one where I had to prove how sick I was in order to get the care I needed,” Cora, a senior at George Washington High School said during a press conference.

She struggled with depression and an eating disorder when she was an eighth grader. She went through treatment at Children’s Hospital Colorado and now is an advocate for increased access to mental health care for young people.

“For me when people told me if your heart rate drops three more beats or if you lose two more pounds we’re going to have to hospitalize you, those became goals for me,” she said.

She believes the state needs to move toward a preventative care system when it comes to mental health instead of just treating mental health episodes as triage situations.

“It isn’t a lack of caring for us,” Coffman said. “It’s an unconscionable lack of resources devoted to the mental health of children.”

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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