By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – Suicide is the number one killer of young people in Colorado and a recent study shows the tragedies are getting more, not less, common. Now, Congress is taking up legislation that would put tens of millions of dollars toward prevention.

Susan Marine is among those supporting it.

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Susan Marine sits behind a photo of her son and daughter. (credit: CBS)

“My son (Kevin) died of suicide in 2003 and four years later my daughter Alice died of suicide.”

More than a decade after she lost her son and daughter to suicide, Marine is among the leading advocates for suicide prevention in Colorado.

“For me, it has been a way to make meaning out of loss.”

(credit: CBS)

She is not alone. Colorado has consistently had among the highest suicide rates in the country and yet it allocates just $350,000 a year for its Office of Suicide Prevention. The federal government, Marine says, has also paid lip service to the issue.

“I think if it were recognized for the problem that it is, and the size of the problem that it is, and the impact that it has on people’s lives, we would have put some reasonable amount of funding toward addressing it, but we don’t.”

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (credit: CBS)

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner plans to change that. He introduced a bill, with Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Arkansas, that pumps an additional $32 million into evidence-based prevention policies at schools, churches and workplaces.

Gardner says 70% of people who take their lives tell someone in advance, which is why it is so important that proven prevention policies are taught everywhere. The bill is drawing wide bi-partisan support.

“This is not a political issue. This isn’t something the left or right should fight about. This is an American issue that we simply have to solve,” said Gardner.

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Susan Marine agrees and says the bill is a step in the right direction.

suicide prevention colorado

(credit: CBS)

“There are a lot of effective programs around. We do not need to reinvent the wheel. We just need more money to implement some of these successful effective programs.”

Dozens of mental health and education organizations along with Sandy Hook Promise – a nonprofit founded by families who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook Elementary – are backing the bill.

Additional Resources

SUICIDE HOTLINE: 1.844.493.8255 or text TALK to 38255

Colorado Crisis Services 

Children’s Colorado Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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Community Crisis Connection

Shaun Boyd