'Send Silence Packing' suicide prevention exhibit at UCCS

An exhibit called "Send Silence Packing" recently came to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus to raise awareness about suicide and provide mental health resources. Photo by Debbie Kelley

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic rise in depression as it upended lives and mental well-being, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment is observing National Suicide Prevention Month with several community events and wellness programs.

As of Aug. 28, there have been 103 confirmed deaths by suicide in Denver so far this year, with 46% occurring in the 25-44 age group. There were 155 deaths by suicide in Denver for all of 2019. 

A Center for Disease Control and Prevention report found 25% of young adults have contemplated suicide since COVID-19 began and roughly 30% reported symptoms of anxiety or depression.

“Considering the additional stresses that the pandemic is adding to everyone’s lives right now, it’s even more imperative that we keep the resources and information in the public eye as much as possible,” said Rick Padilla, DDPHE suicide prevention administrator. 

“Our deepest hope is that the events being held around Denver this month will connect people who are experiencing feelings of hopelessness or sadness with the help they need.”

Events include the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s online speaking event on Sept. 12, a walk in Telluride on Sept. 13 and the annual Out of the Darkness Denver Metro Experience on Sept. 27 at Coors Field.

DDPHE is also working to spread knowledge of mental health resources and warning signs.

“We encourage everyone to be vigilant about their own well-being and to look out for one another,” said Dr. Carl Clark, president and CEO of the Mental Health Center of Denver.

“Even if you aren’t in a crisis, you can call Colorado Crisis Services. It’s better to get help early, and counselors are available to help 24/7."

The Colorado Crisis Services line can be reached at 844-493-8255, or text “TALK” to 38255.

The Mental Health Center of Denver reported that average monthly calls and texts to the Colorado Crisis Services hotlines are up 30% since the pandemic.

“DDPHE is committed to making it easier to access help and remove the stigma of mental illness,” said Robert McDonald, executive director of DDPHE. “Suicide is preventable, and we hope everyone will join us in this effort.”

For more details and resources visit afsp.donordrive.com and mhcd.org.

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