White men ages 40 to 65 are more likely to die by suicide in Teller County than any other group, says the first in-depth annual report from the county Coroner’s Office.
Of last year’s 12 suicides, 10 male and two female, the average age at death was 52. Nine used guns to end their lives.
“The numbers really don’t vary much,” said Coroner Kayla Daugherty, who was deputy coroner for two years before being elected last November.
“There were no surprises in the data, which presents as I have seen it throughout the years working as a deputy here.”
The compilation reflects an aging population, she said. The most recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show the median age of county residents is 50, and nearly 90% of its 25,083 residents are white.
But the numbers don’t show how many deaths handled by the Coroner’s Office were of county residents, Woodland Park Police Chief Miles De Young said.
“What this does not appear to address is whether these are residents or not, in terms of people who show up here and die,” he said.
Car-crash deaths involving travelers, falls and other accidents, and suicides in the county by people who live elsewhere are not unusual, De Young said.
“It’s a snapshot of how many people died in this county,” he said of the newly released report.
Of the 151 deaths in 2018, 128 were natural and 11 accidental, the latter made up of six traffic accidents, two drug overdoses, one fall, one drowning and one incident of hypothermia, the coroner’s summary says.
The primary causes of natural deaths were cardiovascular disease, cancer and pulmonary disease. The average age of people who died by natural means was 71.
The Coroner’s Office investigated 70 of the 151 cases and performed full autopsies on 38.
Deaths in the county have doubled over “a few years back” when the Coroner’s Office would “do 70 or 80 deaths filed,” previous Coroner Al Born said during Daugherty’s swearing-in ceremony in January.
The new report recorded no homicides for last year.
The presumed death of 29-year-old mother and Woodland Park resident Kelsey Berreth, who was last seen publicly on Thanksgiving Day, is not documented as a homicide because her body hasn’t been found, authorities have said.
“It’s still a homicide investigation; it’s being investigated as no-body homicide,” De Young said of the high-profile case, which captured worldwide media attention.
Berreth’s fiance, Florissant resident Patrick Frazee, goes to trial in October on charges of murder and solicitation to commit murder. An Idaho nurse who confessed to helping Frazee clean up Berreth’s home after her slaying, then drove her cellphone to Idaho, will be sentenced in December after testifying against Frazee during his trial.
De Young said homicides are rare in Teller County. “Everything that occurs in El Paso County occurs in Teller County, just at a lesser frequency,” he said.
The estimated cost of Coroner’s Office services for 2018 was $6.62 per person, for a total budget of $166,035.
Daugherty said she intends to do a comprehensive report each year she’s in office.
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