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Throughout the state, Colorado has set an unfortunate record with the highest number of suicides ever recorded in state history. Altogether, 940 people took their own lives in 2009, the most recent year for which data is available. Among the stark statistics: The toll marked a 17 percent increase over the next highest year, 2007, and the highest suicide rate per capita in Colorado since 1988. Nearly twice as many people died by their own hands last year as those who died in car accidents. Almost 80 percent of those who committed suicide were men. While the state no longer tracks suicides specifically among ranchers or farmers, the suicide rate is disproportionately high in Colorado’s rural counties. While the suicide rate is higher in rural Colorado, the number of suicides is greater in more populated, urban areas. Colorado consistently ranks among the top 10 states in the country for suicide. In 2007, the last year for which national statistics are available, Colorado had the sixth highest suicide rate in the country.
Now, a new study may help explain the high suicide rates that have long confounded mental health workers in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West.
Dr. Perry Renshaw, a psychiatrist at the University of Utah’s Brain Institute and an investigator with the Veterans Affairs Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center based in both Salt Lake City and Denver, has found a new overwhelming link between high altitude locations and suicide. The study could have profound implications for suicide prevention in Colorado – the state with the highest average altitude in the country.
“At 6,000 feet (above sea level) suicide rates increased by approximately 70 percent. It’s huge,’’ said Renshaw, the lead researcher on the study.
They found that altitude was an independent risk factor. Renshaw cautions that more research needs to be done, but he believes that oxygen deprivation at higher elevations, known as hypoxia, may cause metabolic stress on people with depression and other mood disorders.
“We calculated the altitude for every county in the U.S. and you get this whoppingly high correlation between high altitude and suicide risk,’’ Renshaw said. “The take-home message is that it’s exceedingly unlikely that this would happen by chance. It would be just one chance in a gazillion.”
Veteran suicide researchers remain skeptical about a direct link between high altitude and suicide. Many had theorized that there was something unique about the people drawn to the American West that elevated suicide risk. To test for this, Renshaw and his team looked at data from Korea, a country with varying high-altitude topography similar to the Rocky Mountain region. They found exactly the same trend in a totally different culture. “The higher you live, the higher the suicide rate was,’’ Renshaw said. “Altitude remains one of the strongest suicide predictors.”
Originally posted by antoinemarionette
Why doesn't it happen in the Andes or the Himalayas?
I think lifestyle and attitude may have as much to do with this as altitude.
I'm looking forward to more details as to the reasons they find through further study.
Originally posted by navy_vet_stg3
reply to post by Believer101
Beings as I live in Loveland, those are my sources too. I was commenting about this to my wife a few weeks ago, and it just sickens me. I remember at just before school started last year (my son's senior year), one of the guys in his JROTC killed himself a few days before the start of the year. They were up at camp in Wyoming just a few weeks prior. It was pretty devastating for my son, as that kid was on my son's color guard and drill team.
I think the teen suicide is due to the same things you and I had to deal with as kids, and the normal pressures of hormones, and being a teen. Today though, they have Facebook harassment, and texting harassment, etc. Also, there seems to be even more of a push to look/act in a specific way, and if you're outside the norm, these kids take a lot of pressure. As a parent, I think a child suicide is probably the worst possible scenario possible, and I've always made it a point to talk to all my son's friends about the "permanent solution to a temporary problem" mentality.
As for the adult suicides, it could be a multitude of things. We have to remember, Larimer County has exploded over the past couple decades. I used to hunt coyote where my house currently is. The area out by I-25 and Hwy. 34 used to be desolate all the way to Greeley. Now, it's built up. More people, more suicides. It's sad nonetheless.
Originally posted by ElizaAshdene
So... I have two mini-theory/ideas... so far
Could it be possible the increase in deaths (you mention drug and alcohol related) at CSU are do to students coming from different parts of the country and not being used to the elevation, causing accidental OD's? (I didn't do the research to find out if these deaths were 100% thought to be suicide. So you may have more info than what I have here.)
The higher up you go, the less.... well, everything. Except for nature, that is. :-)
Less thing to do.
Less possible mates.
The list goes on. So... for people predisposed to depression, dealing with all that may be the breaking point.
Originally posted by starviego
Ya' teach a generation of school kids that suicide is glamorous, and what do you expect?
Another Outcome Based Education program, Death Education, further damaged children by forcing them to focus on their own mortality: One student related the following story: "We had an English course in seventh grade junior high whose title was 'Death Education.' In the manual, 73 out of 80 stories had to do with death, dying, killing, murder, suicide, and what you wanted on your tombstone. One of the girls, a ninth grader, blew her brains out after having written a note on her front door that said what she wanted on her tombstone."
A class of sixth graders were asked to play a "survival game" in which they were to decide which three people they should eliminate from the group, according to their age and contribution; in another class they were asked to write their own epitaphs or obituaries.
Some years ago, THE WASHINGTON POST reported a dramatic increase in youth suicides, and the POST then published my letter showing how elementary school children recently had been taught the theme song from "M.A.S.H.," which is "Suicide Is Painless." The song explains that the game of life is lost, cheating is the only way to win, and that suicide is painless.
Colorado has long been the epicenter of this death worship:
Sometime back in 1990, ABC's "20/20" news program broadcast nationwide a segment titled "An Expose on Death Education." It mostly consisted of an interview with an ex-Columbine High School student and her experiences in an "American Literature" class. She describes the class as making death glamorous and that it made her plan for her own suicide.
"The things that we learned in class taught us how to be brave enough to face death."
Assignments included writing suicide notes and writing their own obituary. They had suicide "talk" days, about how they would kill themselves and why. Tara says one girl in her class tried to kill herself four times in one week.
Originally posted by Believer101
Coming from someone who has a little sister in this day and age going through high-school, I have never heard of any of this. ... Not only do I have my younger sister as a source, I also have her friends, their friends, various other high-school kids to talk to, and I've also been an aid in a lot of high-school / junior high school classes.
Not once have I ever heard of any of this bull.