Suicide Rates Easing in Teller County

~By Rick Langenberg~

Even with a few well-publicized murder/suicides in Teller County, the area is taking a step forward when it comes to the touchy subject of self-inflicted deaths.

Teller County Coroner Stephen Tomsky has reported only two suicide-related deaths in 2023. This is a rate that is much lower than previous years, when the region was rattled by self-inflicted fatalities. This rate was also quite high for former military veterans, and prompted a call for action by Commissioner Dan Williams, who serves with a number of veteran-related organizations.

The rise in suicides definitely got worse with the pandemic, as social isolation definitely took its toll on military veterans and many families.  Self-inflicted deaths and domestic violence reports spiked during the pandemic.

But this trend is starting to turn the corner, at least when it comes to suicides.

“Everything is going pretty smooth,” said Tomsky, when addressing the county commissioners. “We are headed in the right direction.

He admitted the area has encountered more homicides than normal. Most of these, though, have involved isolated cases. Tomsky spoke optimistically of the lower suicide number, and the operations of his office.  At the same time, he mentioned other challenges, such as reports of elderly abuse.

Child Welfare Numbers Improving/Aging Challenges

In other statistics unveiled at last week’s regular commissioners meeting, Commission Chairman Erik Stone reported that child welfare cases are on the decline, based on information he has received from the Board of Health. “We are doing better,” said Stone.

This could be attributed to an improving economy, with more jobs. No specific reasons for this improvements were outlined last week.

But another area of concern, cited by Stone, deals with the growing needs of seniors and the aging population. He said the protective services for seniors will be tested, especially with the increasing number of people who retire in Teller County. And according to Stone, the area is encountering some issues with seniors who need help, but remain somewhat stubborn or resistant about taking advantage of the resources available to them.