Your Life Matters

Photo Credit: Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum

The month of September is suicide prevention month across the country. Over 41,000 individuals die each year by suicide. It is the third leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 10 and 24, and the Native American population has the highest rate of death by suicide of all cultural groups according to Indian Health Service. As of August 2017 there has been 13 deaths due to suicide in La Plata County. According to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, one person dies from suicide every eight hours in Colorado. The state has the ninth highest suicide rate in the country and La Plata has the highest rate in Colorado counties with a population of at least 30,000.

Suicide attempts are a cry for help, but can be prevented. There is help available locally and nationally. Throughout the month there were several suicide prevention events going on around the country, Irish Embassy Pub in Durango, Colo. launched a suicide awareness campaign called “Clovers for Courage.” 25 rocks were painted and hidden along the Animas River Trail and if they were found and taken back to the pub they receive a prize. For each rock that someone hides and post to the Irish Embassy Pub’s Facebook page the restaurant will donate five dollars to Southern Ute Community Action Programs Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) program. QPR trains people to engage with those at risk of suicide and help connect them with professional help. Heartbeat is a peer support group offering empathy, encouragement, and direction following the suicide of a loved one. They meet every second Wednesday of each month at the La Plata County Fairgrounds to help families cope. During suicide prevention month Heartbeat held an event called “You Are Enough” at The Fort Lewis College to raise awareness on mental health, suicide prevention.

November 18th is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day where people from around the world meet at the same time to comfort and share their stories. Heartbeat will be holding events throughout the state of Colorado. There will be a gathering at the Nobel Hall at Fort Lewis College from 11a.m.-2p.m. where people can join and share their experiences and they will be showing a documentary called The Journey, which is about suicide loss and experiences after suicide.

There’s no single cause for suicide. It most often occurs when stressors exceed current coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, insomnia or any type of stress; especially when unaddressed, there is an increased risk for suicide. The main concern for changed behavior is usually related to a painful event, loss or change. “Studies have shown that people don’t want to die, they just want the pain to go away,” said SUCAP’s Suicide Prevention Coordinator Harlene Russell. “They want help, they are looking for help and QPR has saved lives.

Suicide is closely linked with mental illness and substance use disorders and shares risk and protective factors with other types of self directed violence and other related problems. Some people do not show any signs of suicidal thoughts or action and others will show signs of hopelessness, mood swings, no reason to live, anger, increase drug or alcohol use, withdrawn or talking about death or suicide. If you see signs of suicide talk to them and be willing to listen, recognize it is serious, don’t pass judgment, reassure them that help is available, don’t panic and don’t leave them alone. If you are interesting in getting certified as a QPR Gatekeeper contact SUCAP’s Suicide Prevention Coordinator Harlene Russell.



24 Hour

Axis (970) 403-0180


Durango Heartbeat

(970) 403-4103

(970) 749-1673



(970) 403-0610


SUCAP Administration Program Developer

Peter Tregillus

(970) 563-4517 or (970) 769-0120

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