Imagine Zero is a coalition of professionals, agencies, and community members who meet to improve interagency communication and coordination of services around suicide prevention. Through our collaboration we strive to build a wider and stronger safety net of suicide prevention resources in Northern Colorado.
Imagine Zero provides an opportunity to come together to work on community-wide strategies for suicide prevention, learn about resources and projects already existing in Northern Colorado, and discuss ways we can better connect with one another.
We believe that when our agencies come together to weave a true net of care and cooperation, individuals experiencing the despair that precedes suicide will not go unseen and unheard. Someone, somewhere, in our tightly woven net of agencies will notice and know exactly how to respond in a way that builds connection for this individual. Eventually, our community will no longer be one where we puzzle over the excessive suicide rates. Instead, we will be a community of connection, where no individual could possibly fall through our tightly woven net of safety and support.
Our coalition has prioritized interagency communication above all, but also recognizes the need to improve mental health outreach and education for youth and parents, to normalize the conversation around suicide, and to increase access to mental health care for all children, youth and families.
We support and actively participate in the state-wide Zero Suicide initiative. We believe in the Zero Suicide model and encourage interagency communication and collaboration as we work towards shifting the culture of Northern Colorado to a Zero Suicide region.
Mary Beth Swanson, LCSW, Executive Director , Voices Carry Child Advocacy Center: Recently a friend of mine posted a video of herself on Facebook for 22 days in a row, doing 22 push-ups each day, in honor of the 22 United States veterans who die by suicide every day in our country. Watching her, as her small children cheered her on, got me thinking about the similarities between war veterans with PTSD and child abuse survivors also carrying the heavy burden of trauma. Research has shown that when trauma occurs at younger ages, when the sense of helplessness is strong, and when the traumatic experience continues over a substantial period of time, the likelihood of developing PTSD is higher. If that many veterans are dying every day, how many children, young adults, and adults who have experienced traumatic childhood experiences, such as sexual and physical abuse, are also dying by suicide? I suspect too many. When I began my involvement in this Coalition, I would sometimes say that my actual job, at Voices Carry Child Advocacy Center, had very little to do with suicide. Voices Carry serves children after they have been victims of a crime (often child sexual abuse). We don’t provide suicide prevention or intervention services. Yet, I kept going to the Coalition, and soon it became clear that this was exactly the point. I found a group of individuals and agencies, willing to bring ideas, concerns, hopes, and challenges about the issue of suicide, and the isolation and despair that so often precedes it, to the table with honesty and openness. As we talked about what we knew, what we felt, and what we hoped for, it became clear that the process was actually also the solution: relationships, communication, collaboration and connectedness with one another.