DENVER (KDVR) — New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the suicide rate in Colorado is at a 15-year high, and Colorado had the seventh highest suicide rate in the country in 2020.

That is tough information for Kristabell Stansbury to hear. She has struggled with depression and substance abuse herself.

“Middle school was the first time I attempted suicide,” Stansbury said. But she got help and is now sober living a full life.

“I have pursued therapy for a lot of years so EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) cognitive behavioral therapy has all been very effective for me, also being outside and going for hikes,” she said.

Stansbury is now the CEO of Chrysalis Continuing Care in Denver, an outpatient treatment center. She says the suicide numbers in our state are troubling, and that the post-pandemic world and economic hardships are taking their toll. 

“For someone who is struggling, I know that it seems like it will never end, but it will,” she said.

But many wonder if there is something different about Colorado, or the mountain west states. 

Dr. Eric French is a psychiatrist and the medical director of Mind Spa in Greenwood Village. He said there are a lot of theories and that research is being conducted.

“There’s a lot of research out there showing that the higher the elevation the more statistically we see suicide,” French said.

“Some people feel that it’s because it’s more challenging for the body to form serotonin and make it, which might be due to the lower oxygen states,” he said. The research notes an association, not a cause.

As the research continues, French wants people to know there is hope. Mind Spa offers transcranial magnetic stimulation and ketamine infusion therapy.

“There are so many things that we have now like ketamine, like TMS that can help people get feeling stronger a lot faster than we used to,” he said.

If you need to talk to someone, you can call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.