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SpeakUp ReachOut Expands Its Impact

This article first appeared in the 2020 It Takes A Valley Campaign Stewardship Report.

Carol Johnson, Program and Events Director, SpeakUp ReachOut

We’re In This Together

“We’re in this together.” Now more than ever, those simple words can make a world of difference to a person who is struggling with suicidal ideation.

That’s the message behind SpeakUp ReachOut’s goal to train 40,000 people (75 percent of the community) in the Eagle River Valley in suicide outreach and prevention. Thanks to a partnership with Eagle Valley Behavioral Health (EVBH), that ambitious goal is now more achievable.

“Philanthropy has lifted SpeakUp ReachOut from a place where it was just a handful of very passionate people doing the very best that they could on a shoestring budget,” says Executive Director Erin Ivie, “to an organization that can have true impact through our work because we have more capacity and staff.”

Suicide Affects Us Personally

Erin feels that impact personally. Since losing her best friend to suicide in 2007, she has felt the need to offer hope to others who deal with suicidal ideation. She works with SpeakUp ReachOut to show people that “no one is alone on this journey, whether they are struggling with behavioral health issues, suicidal ideation, or the loss of a loved one to suicide.”

As a measure of the program’s success, the Hope Center of the Eagle River Valley, Eagle County Paramedic Services, and Colorado Mountain Medical report an increase in the use of crisis lines and behavioral health appointments, and a decrease in calls to 911. This trend indicates that SpeakUp ReachOut’s outreach interventions are working to save lives.

Looking to the Future

SpeakUp ReachOut is looking forward to still greater success. Research shows that for every person trained in suicide prevention, six lives are touched. To that end, the continued partnership with EVBH will allow them to offer more training opportunities, more speakers to share their experiences with the vulnerable, and more effective marketing.

With the help of EVBH, SpeakUp ReachOut is creating a community of suicide-aware individuals in the Eagle River Valley.

SpeakUp ReachOut’s partnership with EVBH has enabled them to touch more lives. Here are just a few of the outreach efforts that partnership has made possible:

  • Expanded staff to four full-time employees.
  • Trained 1,500 students in suicide awareness during the 2019-20 school year.
  • Trained 650 adults in outreach training programs and presented awareness talks to an additional 350 (July 2019 to July 2020).
  • Launched the COVID Coping Card initiative as a proactive way to support community members who may not seek therapy.
  • In response to the coronavirus crisis, Mental Health First Aid and Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) programs have become virtual.
  • SpeakUp ReachOut is now able to compensate trainers and offer courses at no charge to anyone who wants to take them.

“This community is more ready than ever thanks to EVBH and the work that their team has done to really bring people together. But there is still work to be done, and we need your help,” says Erin.

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