Douglas County chosen for study on youth suicide prevention

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Because of its population size and suicide rate, which is lower than other counties across the state, Douglas County has been selected for a study conducted by the Colorado Attorney General’s office, in partnership with the Department of Public Health and Environment.

Three control focus groups in Douglas County will be compared to focus groups in El Paso, one of four counties that historically have the highest suicide rate in the state.

Health Management Associates, a national research and consulting firm with a Denver office, is leading the project.

“There is something going on in recent years and they are not seeing as high of (youth suicide) rates,” Taylor Simmons, a research assistant at the firm, said of Douglas County. “The study is trying to tease out what is happening in Douglas County compared to El Paso.”

The top four counties that tend to experience the highest rates of youth suicides in Colorado are El Paso, Mesa, La Plata and Pueblo. Across all ages, Douglas County’s rate is typically lower than other counties in the state, according to Sarah Brummett, the state’s director of suicide prevention.

The study’s goals are to support communities in developing local solutions to prevent youth suicide and to foster the relationship between local communities and state government efforts, the firm said. The focus groups will help prevention efforts by identifying the needs, gaps, strengths and key partners of each community.

In a 90-minute virtual discussion, Health Management Associates will study two groups of 10 to 12 parents with children in high school and one group of 10 to 12 school staff members. Because of limited resources and time, researchers said they are not including students in the study.

The data will be analyzed by the firm and presented to the Attorney General’s office and Department of Public Health and Environment. Findings are expected to be made public by the end of July.

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