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How One Colorado Town Is Tackling Suicide Prevention — Starting With The Kids

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At the confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado rivers, the town of Grand Junction, Colo., sits in a bowl of a valley ringed by tall mountains, desert mesas and red rock cliffs. For local residents like Victoria Mendoza, sometimes the setting makes her and others feel isolated.

“I know we can’t really fix this because it’s nature,” says Mendoza. “I feel like people in our valley feel like there’s only life inside of Grand Junction.”

Mendoza, 17, has battled with depression. It runs in her family. The first funeral she ever went to as a little girl was for an uncle who died by suicide. Things got even worse during the 2016-2017 school year. There were seven teen suicides, including a student Mendoza knew from being in band together. At another high school, a student killed himself in the parking lot in front of a crowd.

“It felt like there was this cloud around our whole valley,” Mendoza says. “It got to a point where we were just waiting for the next one.”

You are not alone

 Eight of the top ten states with the highest suicide rates in the nation are in the rural mountain West, including Colorado. The region has been labeled “the suicide belt.”

Read the full story at NPR.

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