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Colorado students’ Safe2Tell tips rose 49% in May after declining during pandemic

Colorado students are starting to turn to Safe2Tell once again for help as the anonymous reporting system saw tips rise in May for the second consecutive month, with suicide reports continuing to be the leading reason children and teens turn to the program.

Reports to Safe2Tell decreased dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic as many students attended classes remotely, but in May the number of tips rose 49% from the same period in 2020 to 1,303 reports, according to a monthly report by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, which oversees the program.

CRISIS POINT: Teens increasingly turn to Safe2Tell for suicide, mental health emergencies. But Colorado doesn’t track what happens next.

While suicide has been the most common reason students contact Safe2Tell since the 2013-14 school year, Colorado health leaders recently declared a pediatric mental health “state of emergency” as more children and teens are struggling with social isolation and anxiety from the pandemic.

“This summer, we can all work together to protect the health and safety of youth in our communities,” Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a statement. “Safe2Tell remains available throughout the summer and reporting urgent safety concerns to the program can save lives whether or not school is in session.”



Safe2Tell is a statewide tip line for students to report concerning behavior. It was created to address youth violence in Colorado after the Columbine school shooting in 1999, but it has increasingly been used by students to report concerns about peers’ mental health.

A 2020 Denver Post report found that there is little public accountability in what happens after authorities — including police — respond to Safe2Tell tips because of a lack of information collected by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

Suicide was the leading cause of death for those ages 10 to 17 in Colorado until unintentional injuries surpassed it last year. Still, medical and public health officials have warned for almost a year that the pandemic would exacerbate the youth mental health crisis in Colorado.

So far during the 2020-21 school year, there have been 2,126 suicide reports, with 252 such reports occurring in May.

At least 10,460 tips have flowed into Safe2Tell during the 2020-21 school year, which is down 47% from the previous year, according to the report released Tuesday.

The number of potential suicides reported to Safe2Tell rose 4% during the 2019-20 school year, which was notable as the overall number of reports to the system declined.

At least 35% of suicide reports to Safe2Tell ended with a student being sent to counseling either in school or with a mental health professional during the 2019-20 school year, according to data released by the attorney general’s office last year.

However, it’s unclear how complete the data is as local officials aren’t required to report such information back to Safe2Tell.