DENVER (CBS4) – A bill introduced to lawmakers aims to help curb youth suicide in Colorado, creating a central agency to coordinate resources statewide. The goal is to make it easier for families to find and access complete care.
“When you don’t know where to start, where to begin, our kids are falling through the cracks… they are not being diagnosed, they are not being assessed and they are doing desperate things,” said Sen. Rhonda Fields, who is sponsoring the bill.
The bill would also standardize the screening and assessments that doctors use to identify potential behavioral concerns, that they believe could lead to early detection.
Ten-year-old Kate Hartman was among those testifying in support of the bill.
“On February 14, 2017, I had a horrible day and I came home telling my mom asking if she had a knife,” Hartman said, “She asked me why and I told her because I wanted to kill myself.”
Hartman shared her story with lawmakers and a room full of people her mother Hope by her side.
“It’s just a punch to your gut and your heart all at the same time,” Hope Hartman said.
On Thursday, Hartman said her family is fortunate one of the “lucky ones” because they were able to get help — but the road to stability was anything but easy.
“There’s so many obstacles and hurdles that so many of these families have to overcome it seems like an insurmountable task,” she said.
After navigating that complex system, the Hartmans are making strides in the right direction — and hope that sharing their experience will shed light on a system they say may actually be failing families.
“I want to help those kids out there who don’t feel like they want to share their stories and who feel like they can’t get help. I want to be their voice,” Kate Hartman said.
The bill has a price tag reaching over $1 million — but one of its sponsors says the state will save money in the end.
“It’s going to cost up front because up front is when we are going to be doing our analysis, but over the course of time we are going to be saving money and we are going to be saving lives and we are going to be helping families,” Fields said.
The bill passed unanimously and will move forward through the legislature.
If you are in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK