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Teen Mental Health Ravaged as Suicide Rates Rise In Colorado

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Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and Colorado has consistently experienced one of the highest suicide rates in the country. When inspected more closely, these statistics show that the state’s teen suicide rate is also among the highest in the nation. These worrisome numbers have created questions about teen mental health, spurring state officials to find ways of improving access to life-saving health care.

Colorado Suicide Rates Rise

According to a new report from the United Health Foundation, Colorado has had the highest teen suicide rate in the U.S. since 2016. The suicide rate among teens in Colorado went up 58% from 2016 to 2019. More specifically, teen rates increased from 12.9 to 20.4 deaths per 100,000 teens aged 15 to 19. The national suicide rate went up 25% within this same period, showing that Colorado teen suicides increased at more than twice the national rate. The research also showed that males were twice as likely to commit suicide, and most suicide victims were white.

The statistics on teen mental health in Colorado are troubling. Policymakers and health officials in the state are looking at ways they can change these trends. Specifically, they want to identify some of the risk factors for teen suicide and find ways to eliminate barriers to health care.

Mental Health Issues in Teens

Teens today seem to be more likely to experience mental health issues. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), one in five teens has had a serious mental health disorder at some point in their life. Mental health issues in teens often begin early in life, and they are defined by symptoms that affect how they think, act and feel. When a teen deals with a mental health disorder, it can impact every area of their lives and interrupt daily functioning.

Depression is the most common type of mental health issue in teens. HHS reports that almost one in eight adolescents and teens are impacted by depression every year. When mental health disorders such as depression are left untreated, it can be life-threatening. HHS links depression, other mental health conditions and substance use disorders as some of the main suicide risk factors in teens.

Teen Suicide Risk Factors

While anyone can be at risk for suicide, there are certain suicide risk factors highlighted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These include:

  • Family history of suicide
  • History of child abuse
  • Previous attempts of suicide
  • Mental health disorders (clinical depression, in particular)
  • Substance misuse
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Aggression or impulsiveness
  • Religious beliefs
  • Local suicide epidemics
  • Isolation
  • Barriers to receiving mental health care
  • Loss of any kind
  • Physical illness
  • Unwillingness to get help because of stigma

Making Mental Health Services for Teens Available

There are different ways that Colorado and other states are looking at reducing suicide rates. Most find that it’s important to make mental health services for teens widely available. In addition, teens need to know how to get to this help when they need it. Along with mental health programs for teens, it’s essential to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, substance misuse and suicide.

Education programs can help adolescents understand that they aren’t alone and that mental health issues aren’t something to be ashamed of. There are also programs being launched in Colorado to help young people get involved in positive social activities. Programs like these can help improve teen mental health by reducing the isolation that many adolescents grapple with.

If your teen is struggling with mental health issues and substance misuse, Next Generation Village is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about treatment plans and programs that can work well for your child.


Daley, John. “The Rate of Teen Suicide in Colorado Increased by 58% in 3 Years, Making It The Cause in 1 of 5 Adolescent Deaths.” CPR News, September 17, 2019. Accessed October 14, 2019.

United Health Foundation. “Teen Suicide.” (n.d.). Accessed October 14, 2019.

Brown, Jennifer. “First-of-its kind study of Colorado suicides reveals traumatized communities—for reasons that differ across the state.” The Colorado Sun, January 3, 2019. Accessed October 14, 2019.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Risk Factors For Suicide.” September 3, 2019. Accessed October 14, 2019.

Mental Health Colorado. “Why Is Colorado’s Suicide Rate So High?” (n.d.). Accessed October 14, 2019.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “Adolescent Mental Health Basics.” (n.d.) Accessed October 14, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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