Building Hope, Summit County government work to combat the public health crisis of suicide during annual prevention month

Summit County government has declared September as Suicide Prevention Month. Mountain communities like Summit County regularly have among the highest suicide rates in the nation.

FRISCO — In 2017, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in America. It was the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34 and the fourth leading cause of death among those ages 35 to 54. There were twice as many suicides (47,173) nationwide as there were homicides (19,510). 

In a resolution presenting these sobering statistics to the public, the Summit County Board of Commissioners designated September as Suicide Prevention Month during its regular meeting Aug. 27.

The resolution proclaimed “maintaining a safe and supportive community is consistent with Summit County government’s overarching goals, and suicide prevention is consistent with many other efforts to protect the safety of (its) citizens.”

Summit County had one of the highest suicide rates in that nation in 2016, when the county had a record-breaking 13 suicides. As of September, the county recorded four suicides, matching the number of suicides in all of 2017 and well below 2018, when there were 11 suicides.

Building Hope Summit County, a community nonprofit dedicated to improving the county’s mental health network through education and community event programming, was recognized in the resolution as the vanguard in the county’s efforts to reduce suicide attempts and deaths.

“Summit County still struggles with a suicide rate that is three times the national average,” said Betsy Casey, Building Hope program manager and one of the founding members of the nonprofit. “We have continued to make strides in decreasing resident suicides, which is a huge victory, but we’re not out of the woods yet.”

24-hour crisis help

• Colorado Crisis Services: 844-493-8255 or text “talk” to 38255
• The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: call or text 988
• For life-threatening emergencies, call 911

In September, Building Hope will continue its regular community connectedness and education programming, including group yoga, art events, outdoor recreation events and educational workshops. The organization also will have two mental health training workshops in September.

On Tuesday, Sept. 17, Building Hope will host a community QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) suicide prevention training and dinner event. QPR is intended to save lives by providing innovative, practical and proven suicide prevention training. The event will take place from 6-8 p.m. at the SOS Outreach Center, 110 S. Third Ave. in Frisco.

On Friday, Sept. 20, a Mental Health First Aid training course will be offered to the public. Mental Health First Aid is an eight-hour course teaching how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The free course is from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Blue River room in the Silverthorne Public Library, 651 Center Circle, and will include lunch and snacks.

To register for these events, or to check out other Building Hope community events and education workshops, visit

Summit County director of public health Amy Wineland says it is important for people to be able to spot the signs of a person at risk of self-harm by listening to their neighbors, co-workers, friends and loved ones.

“Residents can help prevent suicide by knowing the warning signs and where to get help,” Wineland said. “Warning signs include expressing hopelessness, threatening to hurt oneself or talking or posting about wanting to die, increasing substance use and withdrawing from friends and family.  Research shows that people who are having thoughts of suicide feel relief when someone asks about them in a caring way.”

If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible by calling the Colorado Crisis Support Line at 844-493-8255. Help is also available by texting “talk” to 38255. If you or someone you know is at imminent risk of suicide, call 911.

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