National Suicide Prevention Organization Invests in Colorado-National Collaborative to Find Path to Reduce Suicide Rate

       Contact: Alexis O’Brien, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 347-826-3577, [email protected]

DENVER (September 20, 2018) – Similar to other Rocky Mountain States, Colorado has higher suicide rates than the rest of the country. In 2017, 1,175 Coloradans died by suicide. To help stem this tragic loss of life, the Colorado-National Collaborative has set the goal of reducing the state suicide rate 20 percent by the year 2024. To reach this goal, the Collaborative is working with federal and state agencies, national and Colorado based organizations to figure out the best ways to reduce the rate in the shortest amount of time. To increase the reach of this collaboration, the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the local AFSP Colorado Chapter have agreed to collectively be the first to invest $200K over the next year and a half to the, previously unfunded, Colorado-National Collaborative to move the work forward.

“The work being done in Colorado is innovative and aligns closely with AFSP’s Project 2025. It made good sense for our organization to support the Colorado efforts,” said Michael Rosanoff, senior director of Project 2025 at AFSP. “Through the Project 2025 initiative, we have set the goal of reducing the national suicide rate 20 percent by the year 2025. With this investment in Colorado, it is our hope that what we learn that works well can be evaluated and considered for implementation throughout the nation to save more lives.”

About the Colorado-National Collaborative

In hopes of building a blueprint for the nation, the Colorado-National Collaborative will focus comprehensive community-based efforts on six counties in Colorado and explore innovative approaches to lower the suicide rate in those counties. Once efforts are developed, implemented, and measured in the pilot counties, best practices and successful efforts will be scaled up throughout the state. The hope then is to bring these learnings to a national level. So far, the collaborative has 15 members serving as the steering committee. Members are recognized state- and national-level suicide prevention experts who meet twice a month to track the progress. The collaborative has recently hired a coordinator who will focus solely on the project. The next meeting of the six counties and the steering committee will be October 18-19 in Denver. The Collaborative is actively pursuing additional funding to begin full scale implementation in the identified communities.

Project 2025

Launched in October 2015, Project 2025 is a high-impact initiative developed by AFSP, aimed at achieving the organization’s bold goal of reducing the annual suicide rate in the United States 20 percent by 2025. Using a dynamic systems model approach based on what the evidence tells us about suicide, AFSP has determined a series of actions and critical areas to help us reach our goal. With this approach we reach across all demographic and sociological groups to have the greatest impact for suicide prevention and the potential to save thousands of lives. If we work collectively to expand the above interventions in key areas (Firearms, Emergency Departments, Healthcare Systems, and the Corrections System) – cumulatively, we can expect to save nearly 20,000 lives through 2025.

Local Impact

“We have come a long way in the last eight years,” said Sheri Cole, AFSP Area Director for Colorado. “With excellent local leadership and volunteerism, the people of metro Denver and throughout Colorado have united further to fight this rising cause of death in our state. With our grassroots, dedicated volunteers we have chipped away at this issue, and are proud to donate to this innovative collaborative.” Cole lost her son to suicide in 2009.

Cole helped to form the AFSP Colorado chapter in 2012. She started organizing an Out of the Darkness Walk at a local high school in 2010. Now, eight years later, the state has seven community walks with volunteers from across the state, including one this coming weekend in Denver at Coors Field. The money that the local chapter is donating to the collaborative was raised at these Out of the Darkness Walks and other local fundraising events through many individual donations made by families who have experience with suicide and care about the issue, as well as local organizations supportive of the cause.

About the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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