Rise in suicide reports from Safe2Tell strikes attention


Safe2Tell is an anonymous program that allows students to report potential threats. With suicide becoming a rising problem, the program is taking caution and providing an outlet for the students through the anonymity.

Macee Trottner, Editor

In the 2017-2018 school year the Colorado program Safe2Tell, which is primarily used for reporting potential school threats and violence, received a substantial increase in reports relating to suicide attempts and threats. Bullying, the previous leading cause of reports made to the program, was surpassed in the recent school year by suicide reports.

The Safe2Tell program encountered roughly 2,800 suicide threats during last year’s school year according to the Denver Post. Suicide threats in Colorado increased by almost ten times in five years. There were only 102 reports in 2011, but in 2017 a total of 16,000 students sent in reports to Safe2Tell.

“The Safe2Tell program really has all been about protecting you and your friends,” said John McDonald, executive director of school safety for Jefferson County Public Schools. “So as suicide has become a bigger and bigger issue, our kids are reporting it as a threat to their environment because it is.”

The anonymous program allows students to report problems through phone calls, a mobile app and online. It was created after seeing the aftermath of the deadly Columbine High School shooting. The following year of the shooting, the program received 102 reports relating to school threats.  

According to the official Safe2Tell website, the most effective interventions for providing help to students in need have been counseling, monitoring the situation and awareness, immediate intervention, school discipline, citation/arrest and referrals. The end goal for Safe2Tell reports is to provide prevention of any negative outcomes and keep anonymity of the student who reported the incident or threat. The reports received from students are kept anonymous and are not to be included in case files with public access.

Youth suicides and suicide reports through Safe2Tell have increased immensely over the last decade. According to the Denver Post school officials have pinned most of the rise of suicides and suicide attempts on the rise of social media in the youth community.

“In general, I would say that social media created some really complicated things for just people, kids especially,” Kevin Carroll, chief of student success for Jefferson County Public Schools, said noting that teenagers often compare their lives with what they see posted online. 

With the popularity of Safe2Tell growing in the Colorado area, other states have become interested in integrating the program into their areas. After the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida in February of 2018, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s phone kept ringing with calls from state officials from over 20 different states who wanted to know more about the program itself.

“It’s as if there’s a new seriousness in intentionality addressing these issues of violence,” Coffman said. With interest peaking in different states, the realization that not all school boards have the money to initiate a program such as Safe2Tell has arised. Costing around $500,000 a year to keep the program going in Colorado, Coffman and her ex-husband are working together to secure federal grants for states who are wanting to set-up similar hotlines. HR 6713 would provide $25 million each year from 2019 to 2023 to the “Safe2Tell” grants to help begin the anonymous hotlines for students to report to.