Colorado Is Trying To Make A Dent In Youth Suicide Rates

Our region has an especially high rate of suicide. Now Colorado is taking a unique approach to deal with it, at least for kids. Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman, just allocated $2.8 million for a state-wide pediatric mental health initiative.

Andrew Romanoff, who leads Mental Health Colorado, said this is very important for the state’s youth right now.

“We know that in most cases the first signs of mental illness occur during adolescence,” he said. “But we also know there is a gap of 8-10 years between the onset of symptoms and the arrival of treatment.”

Romanoff’s group will receive nearly a third of the Attorney General’s grant to implement its Mental Health Toolkit in schools statewide. The toolkit is a set of best practices designed to help schools improve the mental wellbeing of their students.

“This money will help us close that gap,” Romanoff said, “and train the workforce we need to address mental health and substance use disorders.”

The rest of the grant will fund youth mental health resources for rural areas and pediatric medical institutions, among others. The Attorney General’s office say this initiative is the “first-of-its-kind.”

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.