Imagine a group in which professionals and community members come together to end suicide in northern Colorado. Imagine Zero.
This new coalition is garnering huge support in northern Colorado. Previously called Noco Youth Suicide Prevention Coalition, Imagine Zero is uniting suicide prevention and outreach organizations in an effort to bring the area’s suicide rate to zero.
“When it comes to suicide prevention efforts, there is a lot going on, but the field is very fragmented. We are not working in a way that is optimal in addressing this health concern,” said Kiley Floren, program evaluator with UCHealth Community Health Improvement in Fort Collins. “When this is the case, a coalition is the best way to address and identify the health issue.”
Floren, along with Mary Beth Swanson, executive director of Voices Carry Child Advocacy Center, founded the coalition in January 2016, which now has about 35 organizations — groups that have direct contact with youth and families, as well as those working specifically within mental health or suicide prevention — participating in its networking and monthly meetings.
“Our role as UCHealth Community Health Improvement is largely to keep the community healthy,” Floren said. “So we pay very close attention to current health issues that are most important to our community.”
Suicide is the leading cause of death among Colorado youth ages 10 to 17, and the number of deaths by suicide in that age bracket almost doubled between 2010 and 2014, according to the 2016 Child Fatality Prevention System’s annual legislative report. From the recommendations in the report, Floren and Swanson realized more collaboration among local organization was needed to tackle suicide prevention and a coalition could facilitate that, Floren said.
Community Health Improvement’s Healthy Kids Club is also collaborating with Imagine Zero, she said.
“We are still new, but we are focusing on providing space for focused networking around mental health resources,” Floren said, adding that the coalition hopes to also provide high-level education and professional development around the issues for its members. The coalition will work alongside and be a supportive mechanism for both the Alliance for Suicide Prevention of Larimer County and Suicide Education and Support Services in Weld County.
The coalition meets from 9 to 10:15 a.m. on the third Tuesday of every month at Fort Collins Police Services, 2221 S. Timberline Road. Contact Kiley Floren at 970.495.7512 or email her at [email protected] for more information.
A new chapter also has started in Weld County and will meet from 9 to 10 a.m. on the third Wednesday of every month at the Littler Prevention Campus, 2350 3rd Street Road in Greeley. Questions can be directed to Weld County coalition facilitator Kimberly Pratt at [email protected].
The coalition’s website is expected to go live during National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 5-11, at which time people can get more information and community resources at imaginezerosuicide.org.