The Fight Against Teen Suicide

Posted 10/17/09

It has been nearly a year since the suicide deaths of four teens shocked the Douglas County community, but memories of the tragedies are still fresh …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

The Fight Against Teen Suicide


It has been nearly a year since the suicide deaths of four teens shocked the Douglas County community, but memories of the tragedies are still fresh in the minds of many.

While all of the deaths occurred in the same manner within a short period of time on Nov. 16-17, 2008, police never found any connection in the cases. One week later, news hit that another teen, a 14-year-old girl from Highlands Ranch, had taken her own life.

It was a rash of suicides unlike any other seen in the county’s history, and answers to questions surrounding the devastating incidents were hard to come by. Leslie Clemensen, student wellness coordinator for the Douglas County School District, remembers clearly the tremendous heartache felt by students and loved ones of the victims in the aftermath. She has made it part of her mission to make sure it never happens again.

The Douglas County School District has scheduled its latest round of suicide intervention workshops, which started Oct. 19 and equip parents, hospital employees, teachers and school counselors with the tools necessary to identify indicators of a suicidal person. Noticing the symptoms and simply talking to a person about their feelings can literally mean the difference between life and death.

It might come as a surprise to a well-to-do community with notoriously good schools and strong family values, but Douglas County ranks as the top county in the state for teen suicide attempts. The rate is “significantly” higher than the state average, Clemensen said. In addition, annual reports show that Colorado consistently has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation among all age groups.

In light of what happened last November, it is more important than ever for the public to erase taboos, dispel myths and confront the problem head-on.

“You will never know when you will run across a stranger or student with suicidal thoughts, and you need to know what to do,” she said. “Some people are not comfortable talking about it, but you need the confidence to do it.”

The workshops, using internationally recognized Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, or ASIST, are designed to enable attendees to learn the protocols that are key to a successful intervention.

Similar classes geared toward a younger audience are taught in 8th grade health classes throughout the Douglas County School District. Assessments show that ninth-graders are especially at risk because of pressures associated with transitioning. That’s why reaching peers – the first line of defense in suicide prevention – is so critical, said Clemensen, who also serves as a victim advocate for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Those seeking to curb the teen suicide rate have partnered for the betterment of the community. The school district is helped by law enforcement, hospitals and the Douglas County Suicide Prevention Alliance, an organization that meets monthly.

The workshops are scheduled for November 9-10, March 22-23, 2010, and June 7-8, 2010. Go to for more information on the free two-day workshops.

Teen suicide risk indicators

Sudden change in behavior

Legal troubles

Relationship issue/break-up

History of depression

Recent loss of loved one

Difficult transition

Loss of appetite


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.