Suicide Prevention

man at podium giving presentationDeaths by suicide are increasing at an alarming rate in the City and County of Denver, as well as across the state and nation. We must start talking about suicide to bring it out of the darkness and into the light, where we can address it head on. As a community, we must break the stigma around mental health challenges and normalize the need for care. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among those ages 10 to 20 in Denver and in the state. Colorado's suicide rate is among the top 10 highest in the nation. The rate of death by suicide in Denver increased by roughly 25% between 2017 and 2018. 

DDPHE's suicide prevention response seeks to enhance and support the City and County of Denver's Road to Wellness Framework(PDF, 12MB) and Empower Denver Strategic Plan(PDF, 6MB) to improve behavioral health for all residents. Our ultimate goal is suicide prevention, which begins with striving to remove barriers, improve systems, and advocate for change, while promoting equity in the care system. We aim to develop a coordinated approach that potentially could be expanded throughout the state of Colorado.

Warning Signs

Often, family, friends and even co-workers are the first to recognize the warning signs of suicide and can take the first step toward helping someone at risk. Warning signs include:

  • Talking about feeling trapped
  • Talking about being in unbearable pain or a burden to others
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Acting anxious or agitated, or behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or expressing feelings of being isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

If someone you know is exhibiting any of these signs, please reach out for help.  If you’re thinking about harming yourself, tell a trusted friend or family member.

Risk Factors

Some of the factors that could increase the risk of suicide are:

  • Prior suicide attempts
  • Misuse of alcohol or other drugs
  • Mental disorders, especially depression
  • Chronic disease and disability
  • Access to lethal objects, such as a firearm or medication
  • Knowing someone who died by suicide
  • Social isolation
  • Lack of access to behavioral health care

Stress from prejudice and discrimination is also a known risk factor for suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, queer/questioning, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+) youth.


Video Library

Youth PSA

Mayor Hancock PSA

We Got This!

DDPHE brought together more than 300 teens, young adults, and parents from the Denver-metro area to participate in the first We Got This! Youth Mental Health Summit for a day of peer-based interactive workshops and presentations aimed at raising awareness of and garnering insights around the issues that youth face today regarding mental health and suicide.

Teens & Screens: DDPHE Hosts a Community Discussion about Technology and Youth Mental Health

Be advised that this video contains discussion about suicide.

Part 1:

Part 2:

A Mother's Story

Be advised that this video contains discussion about suicide.

Colorado's suicide rate is one of the highest in the nation. Sherry Larson lost her son to suicide in November of 2021. She shares her experience and message with us.

Elevating Denver also spoke with Rick Padilla. Rick lost his son, Jack, to suicide and is now the Suicide Prevention Administrator for the City and County of Denver. One effort put on by this office is the 'We Got This' summit that focused on teen suicide prevention and mental health.

We hear from some of the attendees of the summit about the benefits and takeaways they learned.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide: Call 988 Call Colorado Crisis Services at 844-493-8255 or Text 'Talk' to 38255.

Elevating Denver: Out of the Darkness

Be advised that this video contains discussion about suicide.

Colorado's suicide rate is one of the highest in the nation. At the recent Out of the Darkness Walk, we heard stories from about loss from siblings, parents, friends, and more. The Walk raises funds to provide the community with resources and support for anyone who has dealt with loss or is struggling with mental health. It's also a place to remember and honor the memory of those no longer with us.

Andrea lost her twin brother, Tony, but still talks to him every day and uses her platform to help others.

Kristine lost her grandson and continues to deal with that loss every day, but urges anyone who is struggling to reach out and find someone to talk with.

Kari lost her brother and has dedicated herself to raising awareness and learning the best way to help anyone in need.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide: Call 988 Call Colorado Crisis Services at 844-493-8255 or Text 'Talk' to 38255.

Addressing Youth Suicide Webinar

Part 1

Part 2

Gap Analysis and Initiatives 

An overall effort to understand and improve the City of Denver’s efforts to combat suicide was kicked off by an extensive two-phase Gap Analysis. In Phase I, various city departments were engaged to better understand suicide prevention efforts already in place within the city. Phase II included an analysis of suicide prevention and awareness programming in two sister cities, with similar demographics to Denver.

We Got This Initiative

In 2022, the City and County of Denver will hosted its first mental health summit, We Got This! This youth-focused day — by youth, for youth — comprised of informational sessions and a keynote motivational speaker.

The objective: to bring together teens and young adults from across the state to raise the awareness of the stressors teens face today; provide opportunities to explore a variety of coping mechanisms; bring awareness to the need for accessible mental health services; and to launch a Teen Mental Health Awareness Campaign to destigmatize the conversation around mental health and elevate the discussion within the community.  


  • Educate youth on how to live mentally healthy
  • Provide internal and external resources (e.g., coping skills, therapy options, suicide prevention resources, community help)
  • Help youth build relationships with their peers and find common humanity in others
  • Offer youth hope and inspiration
  • Provide students and community members access to meaningful information and resources to support youth suicide prevention in our community. 

Anti-Stigma Campaign

The What You Say Matters campaign aims to reduce stigma related to behavioral health conditions and substance misuse. Stigma acts as a powerful barrier to early intervention and access to behavioral health treatment and support. The populations of focus fall into five overlapping sub-groups: individuals with mental health conditions, individuals with substance use disorders, individuals who use substances without a diagnosis, individuals who have attempted suicide, and individuals who have experienced suicidal ideation.

OBJECTIVES: Remove stigma as a barrier to accessing services; develop baselines of knowledge, attitudes and beliefs (KAB) that result in stigma associated with behavioral health conditions in Denver; and change the KAB in Denver to increase empathetic responses and decrease adverse responses to behavioral health conditions.