Children’s Hospital: Youth suicides doubled in El Paso County during pandemic; more resources coming

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 7:52 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The local Children’s Hospital said suicides among El Paso County youth doubled during the pandemic, prompting more resources coming soon.

The Children’s Hospital said El Paso County has long held the highest rate of youth suicide in Colorado, despite representing a much smaller percentage of youth in the state. In El Paso County, youth suicides doubled during the pandemic.

“It’s just the separation from their peers, it’s the stress that exists in their home life, whether that’s stress that’s being added by the economic impacts of the pandemic, whether it’s the online learning, whether it’s the influence that their friends are having through social media channels,” said Greg Raymond of Children’s Hospital Colorado.

While El Paso County has crisis resources, the Children’s Hospital said it has been called a “desert,” due to the lack of outpatient and preventive behavioral health resources.

“You would be surprised at the challenges kids of all ages have related to their mental health and well-being. We see the spectrum from young elementary aged kids up through young adults,” said Raymond.

According to a press release, the Children’s Hospital said to provide wrap-around services for children struggling with mental and behavioral health needs, Children’s Hospital Colorado will resume construction at 2375 Telstar Drive (near Chapel Hills Mall), which will include a daytime pediatric partial inpatient behavioral health program.

“Kids spend the day with our specialists to receive that acute level of care and then at night they’re able to go home, spend time with their families, eat dinner together, sleep in their own bed, and then the next day arrive at our location and receive that same level of care,” said Raymond.

The construction on the building was paused during the pandemic, but is being resumed and expected to be completed in 2022.

The Children’s Hospital is also trying to partner with local schools by providing health coaches, as well as help social workers and teachers identify kids who may be at risk.

“One suicide is one too many, and that’s not acceptable in ways a community should not allow that to happen. Compound that with the situation that our youth are finding themselves in brought on by this pandemic and we have seen that number skyrocket in a way that is not acceptable,” said Raymond.

For more resources regarding youth suicides in Colorado, click here.

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