By: Mesa Messenger Editorial Staff
The suicide rates in Mesa County have raised high concern in the community regarding mental health. A recent expansion plan for a psychiatric hospital in Grand Junction was announced after a $2 million donation was made to the cause.
Western Colorado has gone through high amounts of tragedy due to mental health and the lack of support it so desperately requires. According the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 90% of people who commit suicide have been diagnosed with mental health issues. Prevention and treatment services are extremely crucial to the Grand Vally which is only now receiving the attention it needs.
The recent donation which was made towards a $34 million project for the hospital is expected to be up and running in 2019. The West Springs Hospital is hoping to double the amount of beds it holds along with advancing the institution as a whole.
According to Mind Springs Health, an organization has also been created called, ACTIVE MINDS, in order to work on suicide among the youth of Mesa County. It’s sponsored by Colorado Mesa University, Rocky Mountain Health Plans and US Bank along with other large companies in the area.
Grand Junction High School has lost 3 students due to suicide in the last 6 months. Former student, Carissa Christensen spoke on the ongoing crisis, “ I was scrolling through Facebook and saw one of my good friends post that it was the third one, and this kid wasn’t even popular enough to make the morning announcements.” The stigma attached to mental illness has been perceived as negative in our society which makes anyone who is impacted by it, ashamed to speak up and ask for help. Living in a fast-paced modern world, we often fail to recognize the pain behind the eyes of people we may pass every single day.
The school districts in the county are working to take action to combat the mental health crisis but still have a long way to go. Petitions have been signed and people are beginning to acknowledge the serious problem going on in the area
While the issue is being addressed and the county is working towards preventative steps, there is still more we can do as a community. Negative connotations to depression or mental illness is far too common within the media. Being informed about the subject and promoting positivity on social media is one thing we can do to helping the cause. It’s crucial to recognize and handle mental illness in a sensitive way incase the day comes where you may be the saving grace to someone in your life.