Volunteers and businesses are planning to blanket La Plata County with suicide prevention messages this weekend.
"The entire community is coming together - Durango, Bayfield and Ignacio - to recognize there is an issue and work together to find solutions," said Breeah Kinsella, coalition coordinator for Celebrating Healthy Communities. La Plata County's suicide rate is higher than the state and national averages.
Stickers, sandwich boards and marquees placed around town will proclaim, "Don't be afraid to call 970-247-5245. ... If you can't call, text 741741," as part of the guerrilla marketing campaign, she said. The campaign will last several weeks to coincide with September, which is suicide prevention month.
The message was developed by Ignacio High School students last year and lists the local crisis hotline and the national text line.
Those who use the text option will reach a licensed counselor; it's an important alternative for those experiencing suicidal thoughts, Kinsella said.
"Sometimes, it's really hard to verbalize those things," she said.
Celebrating Healthy Communities, the Four Corners Alliance for Diversity and other groups are working on the effort. Organizers have found the message is resonating with business owners and institutions, such as Fort Lewis College and the public school districts.
"Everyone takes this so personally because everyone here has been affected by this situation," she said.
The campaign is bringing together adults, teens and children who will work together to distribute stickers, posters, postcards and other materials over the weekend, she said.
At FLC, 1,000 magnets will go up on dorm room doors, and some FLC students will be leading groups of teens to distribute materials.
Kinsella said she hopes the campaign will help build relationships between adults and teens in the community. A Healthy Kids Colorado survey found that 69 percent of teens in the region don't feel valued by the community, but 74 percent of adults feel like they value youth, she said.
"We're trying to offer opportunities for youth and adults to build this partnership so that we can close that gap," she said.
Those who want to participate in the campaign Saturday must attend a training from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Holiday Inn, 21636 U.S. Highway 160. There will be several team-building activities and a training on how to talk with business owners.