Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide volunteers, from left, Barb Gueldner, Kelle Schmidt, Ronna Autry, Melissa McCollum, Lynn Snavely, Linda Liman, Jackie Bass, Jayne McCawley, Christian Rosch, Alice Freschi and Leslie Christensen. Not pictured are Penny Fletcher, Steve Aigner, Jon Adler, Liz Taintor and Kaytee Barker.

Photo by John F. Russell

Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide volunteers, from left, Barb Gueldner, Kelle Schmidt, Ronna Autry, Melissa McCollum, Lynn Snavely, Linda Liman, Jackie Bass, Jayne McCawley, Christian Rosch, Alice Freschi and Leslie Christensen. Not pictured are Penny Fletcher, Steve Aigner, Jon Adler, Liz Taintor and Kaytee Barker.

Successful suicide prevention program in Steamboat to be in spotlight at mental health conference

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— A unique and growing suicide prevention program in Steamboat Springs will be spotlighted at a mental health conference this week in Denver.

Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide Executive Director Ronna Autrey and volunteer Leslie Christensen will attend the Bridging the Divide conference Friday to discuss the success of the Suicide Prevention Advocates Program here in Northwest Colorado.

The program has a team of volunteers on call at all hours to help people who find themselves at Yampa Valley Medical Center after a suicide attempt or who have had suicidal thoughts.

“No one else is doing it,” Autrey said about the program that was launched in December 2011. “And we think this is a program other people could follow in the state to better serve those who are attempting to take their lives. We are having success, and it's not a difficult program to put together.”

She added that researchers studying suicide ideation also were interested to hear about the success of the program here at a mental health conference in Austin, Texas.

The program launched with five volunteers and quickly has grown to include 17.

Autrey said the volunteer group is represented by office assistants, accountants, a child psychologist, active and retired nurses, a health care information technology recruiter, and a retired sociology professor, among others.

“Many of these people have had their lives touched by suicide,” Autrey said.

REPS is using a $10,250 grant it received this spring from the Impact 100 giving circle to train more volunteers.

Shortly after the program was launched, YVMC Chief Nursing Officer Marie Timlin told the Steamboat Today that the REPS volunteers are a valuable resource because they are trained to talk with people about suicide.

The volunteers sat with 36 patients last year and were able to connect them with such resources as food stamps and therapy.

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

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