The Rate Of Teen Suicide In Colorado Increased By 58% In 3 Years, Making It The Cause Of 1 In 5 Adolescent Deaths

September 17, 2019

Colorado had the highest increase in the teen suicide rate in the U.S. since 2016.

That’s according to a new report by the United Health Foundation, which ranks each state for the health of its women and children.

Dr. Linda Genen, the group’s chief medical officer for women’s health, said Colorado's teen suicide rate increased 58 percent from 2016 to 2019, but the reason is unclear.

"Makes you wonder what is happening? And we have seen the teen suicide rate going up across the country," Genen said.

In the past three years, teen suicide in Colorado rose from 12.9 to 20.4 deaths per 100,000 adolescents ages 15-19, according to the report. Overall, that rate put Colorado as the sixth worst state.

Nationally, the teen suicide rate is up 25 percent. Colorado's 2019 rate is nearly double that nationwide, 20.4 compared to 10.5

Male teenagers in Colorado were more than twice as likely to complete suicide than female teens. Most deaths were by white victims.

Access to mental health care is critical, Genen said. The report found that half of young people ages 3 to 17 in Colorado didn't get needed mental health counseling.

"How do we change that? How do we get the voice out there that this is not a stigma?" Genen said.

Many factors could be helping to drive the trend, including a family history of depression and suicide, divorce, abuse, bullying and social isolation.

The report also ranked Colorado 10th overall for the health of its women and children, an improvement from a rank of 14th in 2016.

The state fared well for relatively low rates of food insecurity and child deaths, but faced challenges in high levels of excessive drinking among women and high costs for infant child care.