Steamboat meeting to address suicides |

Steamboat meeting to address suicides

Therapists, survivors to lead forum after recent incidents

— Two recent suicides in Routt County and a third with a local connection, within 10 days of one another, are prompting a local suicide prevention group to hold a community meeting Thursday.

The forum, hosted by Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide and the Steamboat Mental Health Center, will provide participants information they can use to help identify and stop individuals who may be considering the act.

"The community is grieving big-time," said Ronna Autrey, coordinator for REPS. "This meeting will bring people together and help them understand what causes people to do this, and how they can help stop it."

Thursday's meeting will include perspectives from medical professionals and suicide survivors. A panel will answer questions from the community about the causes of suicide and how to prevent it.

"A lot of people don't know what causes people to do this," Autrey said. "The more we presented as a panel at these types of discussions, the more people could understand how someone could find themselves in the state of mind to commit suicide."

Autrey said it especially is important for friends and family members of individuals who may be considering suicide to be informed of the ways they can help.

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"So often, people think it's the mental health professional or the family physician that are seeing these people suffering from mental depression, but it's us, from the general public, that have more contact with those people than the mental health community," she said. "We're more apt than the doctors to find out first, and if we're trained, we're more apt to save a life."

Autrey, who has been with REPS since the group was formed six years ago, works with other community members, volunteers and health organizations to educate the public about suicide and its causes.

In addition to educational forums, REPS has a monthly speaker series at Yampa Valley Medical Center, as well as a program that trains individuals to better recognize the warning signs associated with suicide.

John Fleeker, county director for Steamboat Mental Health, will be a speaker at the event. He said there are a number of factors in Routt County that could be contributing to suicides.

"We know this community is going through a lot of unemployment, economic problems and substance abuse," he said. "Events like this get people talking about it."

Fleeker said the recent suicides in Steamboat Springs increase the need for public dialogue about suicide.

"People tend to want to hide it and not talk about it," he said. "It's important that we talk about it and make people aware of the causes and how we can prevent it.”

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