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Suicide Prevention Training Could Reduce Rate By 80%

DENVER (CBS4) - Lawmakers are pushing to bring a potentially life-saving training program to Colorado.

The state has one of the highest suicide rates in the country, which is why lawmakers set up a commission two years ago to recommend changes. The most sweeping recommendation is now the subject of a bill making its way through the legislature.

Linda White and Susan Marine share a bond no mother should have to -- both have lost children to suicide.

"I'm the mother of an adult son took his life a year ago yesterday," White said in a courtroom on Friday.

"This is a picture of my two children," said Marine, who lost both a son and a daughter. "I wonder sometimes what their lives would have been like if they had not been cut short."

Their stories, experts say, point to a failed system where gaps in care cause many to fall through the cracks.

"There was absolutely no attention given to Kevin's transition from hospital to home," said Marine.

Her son died within 24 hours after being released from the hospital; White's within a week.

"When my cell phone rang, it was my son's mental health counselor, and she said Linda, your son is just fine," White recalled.

Senators Linda Newell and Beth Martinez Humenik have introduced a bill that would enact a leading edge suicide prevention model in Colorado.

"It should be all hands on deck when it comes to suicide in Colorado. When you're seventh in nation, we should have every single person in every single capacity doing whatever we can to help," said Newell.

The goal is to put prevention at the forefront of the healthcare system, so every healthcare worker in the state -- from primary care to paramedics -- is trained how to screen for suicide, provide crisis care, and follow-up support.

Nearly half of those who commit suicide saw a doctor in the month before their death.

Healthcare systems that have adopted the so-called "zero suicide model" have seen up to an 80% reduction in the number of suicides.

Colorado would be the first to implement the training statewide, which Senator Newell says would create an opportunity for funding.

The Senate Health And Human Services Committee will vote on the bill next week.

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