Death by suicide is a term often heard and increasingly discussed in Tooele County. It’s been that way ever since 2014 when a cluster of teen and adult suicides — 22 in all — rocked the community throughout the year.
Since the pain and alarm of 2014, we have often reported on the local work being done to keep suicide prevention and awareness at the community’s forefront, from QPR trainings and other related programs to support groups and walk-a-thons.
That local work was the subject of a four-part series on suicide prevention and awareness that began on Oct. 3 and concluded last Thursday. The series explored the abundance of organizations and services in the county that are dedicated to make sure 2014 doesn’t occur again; the signs of someone who is thinking about taking their life and how to get them the help they need; and the experiences of a man who, racked by addiction, debt and despair, thought he had lost all reason to live and tried to die — twice.
After the second attempt, he thankfully got the help he needed.
“I had reached the point where I did not value my own life,” he said. “I had problems that I could not see any way out of, and I thought people would be better off without me.”
That was two years ago. He’s now a highly valued employee at the place where he works. During the height of his troubles, he lost his wife and family. Today, they’re all together again. With help, the man turned his life around — after trying to die twice.
“Yes,” he said when asked if he was happy. “Does it get better? Yes it does. Does it take time? Yes it does.”
Which leads us to consider the next few words and why they’re so important to hear for anyone who is thinking about suicide:
“There is help. There is hope. And recovery is possible.”
Those 10 words, said by Grantsville resident Doug Thomas, who is the director of the state Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, summarizes the key point the news series uncovered — and will hopefully be taken to heart by anyone in Tooele County who is considering taking their own life.
“Most people who have suicidal thoughts and receive the support they need go on to live life without recurring suicidal episodes,” Thomas said.
For persons who are struggling, don’t lose hope and any more time. A good place to start is at Valley Behavioral Health, which provides services for depression, anxiety and other challenges that can contribute to one’s thinking about suicide. VBH is located at 100 S. 1000 West in Tooele City. The number is 435-843-3520 during the day. On evenings and weekends, call county dispatch at 435-882-5600 to reach an emergency mental health worker.
Other numbers to call include: the local Life’s Worth Living Foundation’s support line at 435-248-LIVE (5483); University Neuropsychiatric Institute’s crisis line at 801-587-3000; and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
For persons who want to know what to do for a family member or friend who is in crisis, time is also of the essence. Local QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) trainings are available through Tooele City’s Community’s That Care program. QPR equips participants with methods for responding to someone who exhibits suicidal behaviors, or says they’re thinking about suicide. The course teaches how to question a person about suicide, persuade the person to get help, and refer the person to appropriate resources.
Information about Communities That Care, including QPR training dates, can be found at tooelecity.org/city-departments/communities-that-care.
Thanks to dedicated efforts by many, Tooele County has an abundance of programs and services available to help those who are in personal crisis. And with the growing number of citizens who have undergone QPR training, those efforts hold promise to contribute even more.