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As recently proclaimed by the Chaffee Board of County Commissioners, September is National Suicide Prevention Month in the county. For a variety of reasons, not all known or understood, Colorado and the high country of Colorado have suicide rates higher than the national average.

Given this renewed focus on mental health and prevention, Ark Valley Voice decided to review the county’s recent record of suicides occurring here, as reported by Chaffee County Coroner Jeff Graf. For 2022, there were 12 suicides, by a variety of means; with five by guns, and four by hanging;

“Study in Black”, wood sculpture by Sean O’Meallie. “These guns are on the verge of mayhem. Only the lucky and the absent survive.” -Sean O’Meallie. Merrell Bergin image courtesy Sangre de Cristo Arts Center – Pueblo, CO.

2022 Suicide Deaths 

02-18-22–Hanging-Dept. of Corrections 

03-12-22--Multiple Drug Overdose 

03-12-22--Hanging-Dept. of Corrections 

03-25-22–CO2 asphyxiation-Car 

06-27-22 -Gunshot wound to mouth 

07-01-22 –Gunshot wound to head 

09-21-22 -CO2 asphyxiation 

09-30-22 -Hanging 

10-10-22 -Gunshot wound 

10-13-22 –Hanging 

11-23-22 –Gunshot wound 

11-28-22-Gunshot wound 

 As much as we might not want to hear this, Graf says that the 2023 suicide rates are “on pace to be an average year, as was 2022. We are at eight suicides for 2023.” In general, guns have become the most common form of suicide.