Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention

While statistics vary across Colorado, substance abuse and suicide ideation and completion continue to be higher in western Colorado compared to other counties across our state. In addition, access to resources in our rural communities remains a challenge for youth and families. Mesa County, home to the largest school district in the seven counties we serve, continues to struggle with higher than state and national averages for suicide attempts, ideation, and substance abuse by youth.

Our Community Foundation funds many efforts across the counties we serve to help address the dual challenges of substance abuse and suicide among youth. Prevention efforts include:

Social Worlds and Youth Well Being

This project began with seed funding from the Western Colorado Community Foundation awarded in 2019 to Anna S. Mueller, Principal Investigator (PI) and Sarah Diefendorf (Co-PI). In August 2021, the researchers were awarded approximately $1.2 million from the National Institutes of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of our funding agencies.

The Social Worlds & Youth Wellbeing Study aims to advance understanding of how schools can effectively and efficiently work to prevent suicide and respond to suicide losses. The study recognizes that many schools face resource scarcity and that many existing suicide prevention strategies are costly (in terms of money, staff, and time). School staff need information that they can easily use to maximize existing resources and strengths to support all aspects of learner’s development into happy, healthy, educated adults. The researchers approach this work as a partnership with school districts and schools, where knowledge and action steps are identified and co-produced to help keep kids as safe and happy as possible.

Working with five high schools and two middle schools in Mesa County, the goals of the study include:

  • Understanding how schools work to prevent suicide and support student well-being;
  • Identify elements that impede or enhance multi-tiered suicide prevention strategies in schools and their districts;
  • Leverage this knowledge to develop sustainable, effective, and equitable strategies schools can use to prevent suicide among youth.

Click here to learn more about the SW&YWB study

Active engagement and participation with these local steering committees help our Community foundation identify and support locally developed solutions aimed at substance abuse and suicide prevention for youth in Mesa county.

Colorado National Collaboration/Mesa County Suicide Prevention Task Force is a partnership of professionals, organizations and community members working on community-based strategies to prevent suicides in Mesa County and working toward the goal of reducing suicides by 20% by 2024.

Mesa County Opioid Response Group is a community collaboration of partner organizations who provide community trainings and substance abuse recovery support.

Region 13 Opioid Crisis Recovery Funds Steering Committee

The I Matter website connects Colorado youth and parents of youth struggling with a crisis with a therapist for up to 6 free, virtual counseling sessions that are completely confidential.