I applaud the Colorado Springs Business Journal coverage of the recently released 2011 Quality of Life Indicators report. This is relevant community reporting with important social and economic impacts. I would, however, like to clarify some of the issues addressed in the section of the article on suicide. This is not the first time the Quality of Life Indicators has included El Paso County’s four highest suicide risk sub-populations. This data breakout has been included in the QLI reports for 2009, 2010, and 2011. These high risk groups include: teens (15-18 years), males (25-54 years), seniors (65+ years), and veterans (all ages). Suicide rates in each of those four categories have increased every year they have been reported in the QLI and exceed the rates for both Colorado and the United States.
By far, the current suicide rates for El Paso County veterans are the most alarming: 50.5 suicides for every 100,000 veterans in the county, more than twice the suicide rate of the El Paso County general population. The suicide data on veterans are from the Colorado Health Information Dataset, WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, and was provided by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The QLI Health Vision Team recognizes the significant impact of military installations and military personnel in El Paso County. The CSBJ author is correct in identifying the responsibility of the federal government for calculation of military suicides. Data on suicide rates among active military were requested this year and in past years, but we have been unable to obtain current local data. We will continue to seek this data for inclusion in future Quality of Life Indicators reports.
United Way Health Vision Council/Quality of Life Indicators Team
Suicide Prevention Partnership-Pikes Peak Region, Board of Directors