Yampa Valley Medical Center has been working with the Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide on the Suicide Prevention Advocates program at the hospital. YVMC’s Director of Emergency and Trauma Services Paula Golden, left, and Chief Nursing Officer Marie Timlin say the program has been a valuable resource for patients. REPS recently was given a $10,250 grant from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, and REPS Executive Director Ronna Autrey said the funds will be used to train more volunteers for the Suicide Prevention Advocates program.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Yampa Valley Medical Center has been working with the Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide on the Suicide Prevention Advocates program at the hospital. YVMC’s Director of Emergency and Trauma Services Paula Golden, left, and Chief Nursing Officer Marie Timlin say the program has been a valuable resource for patients. REPS recently was given a $10,250 grant from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, and REPS Executive Director Ronna Autrey said the funds will be used to train more volunteers for the Suicide Prevention Advocates program.

Giving circle bolsters area nonprofit groups with grants

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— A growing nonprofit dedicated to preventing suicides in Northwest Colorado will expand its reach thanks to the continuing generosity of a passionate giving circle.

At a social gathering Thursday at the Chief Theater, the 102 members of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation's Impact 100 giving circle voted to donate $10,250 to Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide along with other grants to area nonprofits.

REPS Executive Director Ronna Autrey said the funds will be used to train more volunteers for its growing Suicide Prevention Advocates program that aids patients at Yampa Valley Medical Center after they have attempted or contemplated taking their own life.

The volunteers are on call at all hours of the day.

“We are so grateful,” Autrey said, adding that some of the grant also could help to provide therapy to patients who cannot afford it.

Started in December 2011, the Advocates program has had volunteers help patients at the hospital who have attempted suicide or entered the emergency department with suicidal thoughts.

Autrey said the prevention program started with five volunteers and has grown to 17.

She said it has had an immediate and important impact on the community.

“We actually sat with 36 patients last year, and we were able to connect them with all sorts of different resources like food stamps and therapy,” Autrey said. “We helped one young college student find housing and hooked him up with mentors. We've been doing all sorts of things.”

She said if the patients can get therapy and get on the road to therapy, the volunteers “aren't seeing them back in the emergency room.”

Tarsha Ebbern, communications and donor relations director for the Community Foundation, said the members of Impact 100 were shocked by the statistics that showed Northwest Colorado has a very high suicide rate.

“The reality is we do have an extremely high suicide attempt and success rate in Northwest Colorado, and I think that really shocked a lot of people when Ronna made that presentation to the group” Ebbern said. “A lot of people said they had no idea this was happening in their community.”

Autrey said suicide deaths in Routt County typically average five or more per year.

She said there has been one suicide death each in Routt and Moffat counties so far this year.

In addtion to the growing volunteer program, REPS also is planning to start a new support group for residents who have attempted suicide.

Started in 2006, Impact 100 now has donated more than $78,000 to area nonprofit organizations ranging from REPS to Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports.

In addition to REPS, the giving circle this year donated $1,450 to the Grand Futures Prevention Coaliton, $500 to Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp and $500 to the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

Ebbern said Impact 100 has plans to grow its reach in the community in the future.

“A lot of these people are doing it out of the goodness of their heart and not getting any recognition or acknowledgement for it,” Ebbern said.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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