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Key Issues / Community Health / Behavioral Health in Colorado

Behavioral Health in Colorado

February 8, 2017

Behavioral health is a critical piece of our physical health and overall well-being.

This link is clear, which is why Colorado is forging ahead with new models of care delivery, programs to promote prevention and a statewide crisis response system for those in need.

Here at the Colorado Health Institute, our team is tracking the policy around behavioral health as well as the progress of initiatives like these and others through data workbooks, research briefs and interactive dashboards.  

2016 Projects

Scroll down below the interactive dashboard to read an analysis of the data you see here and view other projects. 

Suicides in Colorado Reach All-Time High

Suicide in Colorado

Suicide claimed 1,093 lives in Colorado in 2015, the most ever recorded in one year, according to the latest data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE).

Since 2000, when Colorado recorded 612 suicide deaths, the annual number of suicides has increased by 79 percent. A comparison of 2014 Colorado suicide data with national data from that year, the most recent available, reveals that every one of Colorado’s 21 health statistics regions had a higher suicide rate than the national average of 13.0 per 100,000 people.

This tableau dashboard displays Colorado’s ongoing struggle with one of the nation’s highest suicide rates. All data are from CDPHE.

Suicide Rates by Region

Suicide is a widespread problem in Colorado. Denver County (HSR 20) had the lowest rate in 2015 — 13.9 per 100,000. HSR 17 — Gilpin, Clear Creek, Park and Teller counties — saw the highest rate at 37.8 per 100,000 (although the small population means there is no significant statistical difference between the rate for this region and all other regions with the exception of Denver County.)

Suicide Rates by Method

The suicide rate for firearm-related deaths is nearly twice as high as the rate for hanging and suffocation. Deaths from drugs and biological substances, gases and vapors and jumping comprise less than a fourth of all suicide deaths. Because roughly half (49.5 percent) of all suicides are carried out with guns, the dashboard displays the proportion of firearm deaths by region. To see this data, hover over a region in the state map.

The proportion of firearm suicides ranges from 36.2 percent in Denver, Boulder and Broomfield counties to as high as 80 percent in Saguache, Mineral, Rio Grande, Alamosa, Conejos and Costilla counties (HSR 8). Denver metro counties see lower-than-average proportions of firearm suicide deaths. The exception is Douglas County, where the rate is 61.5 percent. In general, rural and frontier regions record rates of firearm suicide greater than state average proportion for this method.

Suicide Rates by Gender

Men in Colorado die by suicide at a rate nearly four times as high as females. In 2015, the suicide rate for men was 30.5 per 100,000, higher than both the state rate of 19.5 and the female rate of 8.8. This disparity has been a consistent trend in the state and nationally.


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