With an average of six or more residents in our small community taking their own lives each year, Routt County’s suicide rate is more than double the national average and higher than typical averages of 49 states.
Heather Savalox has been working to spread her vision for the future of her anti-bullying club for area high school students, It Takes Courage, but when Steamboat Springs Middle School’s version of the group, the HOPE Club, presented Savalox with a $500 scholarship endowment earlier this week, she didn’t see it coming.
Facing a barrage of holiday music and happy Christmas shoppers at a supermarket in Maryland, Ronna Autrey abandoned her heavy shopping cart in the middle of the store and left in a hurry. All of the happiness and music was too much for the mother to bear as she was grieving her son’s recent suicide. “I just lost it,” she said.
Kristina had faced what Savalox calls a “perfect storm”: bullying, low self-esteem, and depression. When Kristina’s parents read her journals after her death, they saw she had been suffering for years. Silently.
Joe Bell left Steamboat Springs on foot Friday morning, pushing his belongings in a three-wheeled cart toward Rabbit Ears Pass. The Oregon man is in the midst of a journey of spiritual cleansing layered with grief and a strong will, in the wake of his son Jadin’s death in February, to dissuade people from bullying.
Heather Savalox, left, founder of It Takes Courage, talks with Soroco High School leadership student Alex Bryant at Johnny B. Good's Diner in Steamboat Springs. Savalox was celebrating the fact her YouTube video about the suicide of her 15-year-old niece has surpassed 1 million views.
The celebration was held at Johnny B. Good's because owner Mike Diemer has offered his Diner as a safe haven for kids who feel as though they have no one to talk to.
Kayla Guettich receives the 2013 'Teen Volunteer of the Year' award at Routt County United Way's "Annual Day of Giving". Guettich was nominated by Grand Futures Prevention Coalition for her work with the Steamboat Springs Teen Council and Partners in Routt County, as well as her participation in It Takes Courage and Girls Reaching Inner Potential.
Savalox estimates that she along with three high school volunteers and a social worker have talked to more than 800 people about how to prevent bullying.
During their programs, the high school students share their own stories of coping with bullying, and Katy Thiel adds her own experience as a social worker for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.