Two well-known people took their lives in the first week of June — Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.
But the attention focused there doesn’t tell the story of the 1,100 people who killed themselves in Colorado in 2016, the latest year for which numbers are available. Nor does it help explain a 34 percent increase over the last 20 years.
A few years back, the state created a network of walk-in centers for people in crisis called Colorado Crisis Services. Eileen Barker works for an agency that runs a center. She told Colorado Matters that people contemplating suicide have a range of problems, from relationship issues to drug use. Veterans are also particularly prone to suicide: 22 die each day across the United States.
Barker said friends and family can look for warning signs. The most important thing one can do, she said — if you have any inkling that a person is contemplating suicide — is ask them directly.
“That's one of the things people are so afraid of: 'Oh no, if I ask, I might trigger them to think about suicide or I might them attempt suicide,' but that's not true. If they're thinking it they're already thinking about it."
Barker is vice president for acute care services for AllHealth, a nonprofit that provides mental health services.
Colorado operates a 24/7 hotline for people in crisis. You can call 1-844-493-8255 (1-844-493-TALK) or text TALK to 38255.