DENVER — On Thursday, a Colorado high school student wrote an open letter to Governor Jared Polis, describing what he sees as a mental health crisis among his classmates.
"Just yesterday, December 10th, 2020 at approximately 10:50 am my school counselors sat us down as a class. They had just received word that a student from the school just 15 miles to the West had taken his own life," Cyle Goble, a high school student in Otis, wrote. "I wish to god that I could say this was the first time we had to experience this but it was not. This same tragedy had occurred just the week before."
The open letter, posted to Facebook, was shared thousands of times. Goble says it caught on not just because of the focus on mental health, but also because of its focus on what he says is a 'one-size fits-all' approach to Colorado's COVID-19 regulations.
"These mandates and restrictions have isolated these students and us from friends and mental health resources," he wrote.
Many on Facebook praised the tone of the letter that takes pointed aim at the governor.
"I think that a conversation that a lot of us want to have with Governor Polis is how he is doing the one-size-fits-all, I don't think that it's one-size-fits-all," explained Goble. "I don't think that he's understanding how this is working out here."
Attorney General Phil Weiser says the state is paying attention, especially to the concerns of students and mental health.
"We need to realize that we're living in a very stressful time, this pandemic is straining everybody, it is challenging our mental health," he said, directing Colorado's youth to the state's Safe2Tell student hotline, a statewide resource for students in crisis. The office reported earlier this year that tips for depression and suicidal thoughts were up in the year 2020.
"For teenagers right now they are, wherever they live, facing unique and challenging strains, and we need to be there for them," Weiser said.
When it comes to the political divide in the state over COVID-19 regulations, he encouraged dialogue as well.
"Regulatory policies never perfect," Weiser explained. "Find ways to address your concerns, engage your public representatives, and we all need to be in this together."
Safe2Tell allows students to anonymously report threats to themselves and others. People can call 1-877-542-733 anytime to make a report or can do so at Safe2Tell.org or through the Safe2Tell mobile app.
If you, or someone you know is dealing with depression, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255.
RELATED HEADLINES --
Preventing suicide in Colorado: Resources from in-person help to phone lines, apps and more