Ashawnty Davis’s story made waves across Colorado at the end of 2017. Her parents described her as a happy child who had dreams of being a basketball player.
The fifth-grader got into a fight at Sunrise Elementary School in Aurora. Soon a video of the fight surfaced on an app called musical.ly, and Ashawnty was bullied to the point that she hung herself in a closet. She was on life support for a few weeks, but she passed away at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Colorado’s suicide rate is disturbing, and it is something that needs to be addressed. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, 1,156 people fell victim to suicide in Colorado in 2016. That number marks the highest number of suicide deaths ever recorded in the state. Suicide killed more people than breast cancer, homicides and car crashes in 2016, and it is the leading cause of death among people who are ages 10 to 24. The 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey found that 17.5 percent of Colorado high school students considered suicide.
“Suicide is not only a mental health, family or school issue, it is public health challenge and community issues that requires coordinated and comprehensive prevention efforts,” Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman said in a press release that announced two new statewide youth suicide prevention initiatives in December. “Too many families in our state have faced the incredible tragedy of losing a child, and when a young person dies by suicide it doesn’t just impact their family or friends, it causes ripples across the community. We know that we have young people in our state who are struggling and we must respond to their cries for help.”
One of those new initiatives was a $200,000 investment in the Sources of Strength program from the Attorney General’s Office. The program is a youth suicide prevention project, and the investment will bring it to 40 schools across Colorado.
“Sources of Strength is excited to partner with the Colorado Attorney General’s office and communities across Colorado to help strengthen and support resilient, connected, and healthy individuals, schools, and communities,” Sources of Strength Deputy Director Scott LoMurray said in the press release. “We look forward to playing our part in moving our prevention efforts upstream and helping not just to keep people alive, but to help them to live full and healthy lives of connection and hope.”
The other initiative will see the Attorney General’s Office give $173,000 to fund a study that looks at trends and patterns in suicide behaviors in young people. The study will analyze El Paso, La Plata, Mesa, and Pueblo, counties that have the highest rates of youth suicide.
If you struggle with suicide, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or the Colorado Crisis & Support Line at 1-844-493-TALK (8255).