Barbosa family raises money for suicide prevention


Pictured, Jessica Barbosa holds her daughter, Ryann, as she presents a check to Adams State President Beverlee McClure and Director of Counseling Services Gregg Elliott.

Jessica Barbosa holds her daughter, Ryann, as she presents a check to Adams State President Beverlee McClure and Director of Counseling Services Gregg Elliott to help raise awareness of suicide and prevention.

On September 16, Jessica and Curt Barbosa, and their daughter Ryann Barbosa, aged two, brought proceeds from candle sales to campus. Jessica and Ryann decorated white tapered candles with jewels and ribbons and sold them, along with a holder, for 8 dollars to extended family and friends. Jessica's father, Jake Tafoya took his own life on September 23, 1996, when Jessica was nine-years-old.

"My family has always recognized the anniversary privately, generally by releasing balloons, lighting candles in his memory at church, or some other personal way." This year Jessica decided to "do something new to raise awareness for suicide prevention."

"Adams State is grateful for the contribution for such a worthy cause," McClure said. "I appreciate the effort and dedication shown by Jessica and Ryann as they give back to their community and honor the memory of their father and grandfather."

Next year the Barbosas hope to extend the fundraising. "We might create wreaths to hang on doors," Jessica added.

She called the San Luis Valley Mental Health Center to find out about donating the proceeds and was referred to the Adams State University Counseling Services Center.

The Adams State Counseling Center organizes trainings for the San Luis Valley on suicide prevention and intervention, including the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) for campus and community members and Assessing & Managing Suicide Risk (AMSR) for counselors and other clinicians. Elliott is one of two AMSR certified trainers in the State of Colorado.

"We wanted to donate locally and help people who live in the San Luis Valley," Jessica said. Her father, a Del Norte native, served in the military. "Curt and I also want Ryann to know the importance of giving back."

September is Suicide Awareness Month and the World Suicide Prevention Day was recognized on September 10. According to Elliott, the six counties in the San Luis Valley have some of the highest rate of suicide in the state and Colorado is typically the fifth or sixth highest state in the nation for suicide rate.

"There are many factors for these statistics," Elliott said. "Western states and rural areas generally have less access to mental health, have more access to firearms, have a lower socioeconomic population, and elevation has even been shown to be a factor."

The Adams State Counseling Center works closely with the San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group, Adams State's Counselor Education Department, Tu Casa, and San Luis Valley Health to offer trainings to as many people in the San Luis Valley as possible.

"The more people we have in the community who can recognize the warning signs that another person may be thinking about suicide, and the more people we have who are confident in intervening with a person who's thinking about suicide, the better off we will be as a community," Elliott added.