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Thorny questions dominated a Community Conversation on Wednesday evening focused on suicide — an issue that’s of particular concern to El Paso County, where more people have killed themselves than anywhere else in the state from 2004 to 2017.

At Wednesday’s panel discussion, hosted by The Gazette and KKTV and attended by about 175 people, experts emphasized one tactic above all others in combating that issue: offer help by speaking up.

“This is a community problem,” said Mark Mayfield, a suicide survivor and founder and CEO of Mayfield Counseling Centers. “It should fall on the shoulders of all of us.”

Some alarming statistics from the discussion:

From 2004 through 2017, 24 of the people who died by suicide were ages 10-14. And 118 of them were ages 15-19.

El Paso County Sheriff’s deputy John Hammond, a member of the agency’s behavioral health team, said he’s responded to calls for suicidal people ages 8 to 81.

Roughly once every other day, someone intentionally kills themselves in El Paso County.

During the 2018-19 school year, Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 assessments found 86 students were at “substantial” risk of attempting suicide. It was a marked increase from the previous school year, when 48 children were at such risk of suicide.

Watch the entire Community Conversation above. 

Click here to read our full coverage from the panel discussion.

Click here to see our ongoing "Mental Health: A Crisis in Colorado" series of stories.

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