Colorado’s Office of Suicide Prevention and Suicide Prevention Commission
October 15, 2019
The Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention was established in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) during the 2000 legislative session via passage of House Bill 00-1432, which appropriated funds and two full-time equivalent (FTE) staff. The office has grown to manage a budget of over $2.5 million and 5.5 FTE staff, including a director, youth suicide prevention coordinator, and Suicide Prevention Commission coordinator. Funds for these positions come from unrestricted state general fund dollars for the Office of Suicide Prevention, as well as federal grants and foundation support. The suicide prevention staff serve as a team of experts that decision makers can call on when suicide prevention issues, news, and resolutions are discussed.
To build this momentum and ensure sustainability, the deputy chief of the Violence and Injury Prevention Branch at CDPHE has acted as a vocal champion for the importance of funding and implementing suicide prevention in Colorado. As changes occur in Colorado’s state legislature and administration, the deputy chief works with the Office of Suicide Prevention to show the need and impact of ongoing funding for prevention.
Colorado’s 2014 Senate Bill 14-088 created the Colorado Suicide Prevention Commission, which is made up of 26 members appointed by the CDPHE executive director. The commission has brought together representatives from public agencies; the private sector; faith communities; people with lived experience; and others. The Suicide Prevention Commission promotes cross-discipline collaboration and is charged with making evidence-based recommendations and ensuring that suicide prevention remains a state priority.
Colorado’s experiences have shown that building momentum in suicide prevention requires a team of champions who can advocate for continued support and funding. While Colorado’s Office of Suicide Prevention is housed in CDPHE, partnering with other state agencies and private organizations has been essential to its ability to implement a comprehensive, lifespan approach to suicide prevention in the state.