A lot has been achieved in Tooele County since 2014 when it comes to suicide awareness and prevention. That year, along with 2015, had a combined 33 youth and adult deaths by suicide in the county, according to a 2015 study by the Tooele County Health Department. The tragic loss of so many family members and friends stunned and saddened everyone.
Thankfully, local leaders, healthcare professionals, educators, clergy, law enforcement and concerned citizens, didn’t ignore the problem. They joined hearts, heads and hands to turn tragedy into change.
And despair into hope.
For example, since 2014, thousands of local residents have received QPR training, which stands for Question, Persuade, Refer. The training helps persons to recognize suicide warning signs in loved ones, friends and others. QPR teaches how to directly ask someone if they want or are thinking about taking their life, persuading them to live, and getting them the help they need.
Another is the Life’s Worth Living Foundation. Since being founded in 2014, the foundation has created several prevention trainings, community support groups, and community events and fundraisers to support suicide prevention and awareness. Two big popular annual fundraisers are the “Walk to Wendover” and the “It’s a Wonderful Life Festival.”
General support group meetings by the foundation are held at 7 p.m. the third Thursday of every month at Mountain West Medical Center. Veteran-specific support group meetings are held at 7 p.m. the second Thursday of every month at the Tooele County Health Department. Both support groups are for anyone who struggles with suicidal thoughts, or who has lost a loved one to death by suicide. For more information, see lifesworthlivingfoundation.org.
Perhaps the biggest example though is what has been done in local schools to raise suicide prevention and awareness. At the local high school level, there are Hope Squads, which consist of fellow students who are known to be caring, good listeners. They are trained in suicide awareness and to work with school advisors to get struggling students the help they need.
And as reported in last Thursday’s edition, local Hope Squads are encouraging the Tooele County community to participate in Wednesday’s statewide “Day of Hope.” On that day, citizens are asked to wear yellow and to tie yellow ribbons around the county. The effort is to promote the need for helping residents who struggle with mental health issues, and to eliminate the negative stigma associated with it.
Local Hope Squads’ support for “Day of Hope” is on the mark. According to Toni Broadhead, Stansbury High School’s Hope Squad advisor, the average person goes through at least six depressive periods throughout their life. And according to Hope4Utah, suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth between the ages of 10-19 years old.
All students who serve as Hope Squad members are thanked for their valued and selfless contribution to their classmates and schools. They are also thanked for encouraging all of us to be mindful of — and helpful to — those who struggle with mental health issues. The local effort to change despair into hope belongs to all of us.