layton murder-suicide brings prevention reminders

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 9:16 AM

JaNae Francis, Standard-Examiner Staff

LAYTON — A reported murder/suicide here has area residents asking themselves both what they could have done to help and what they might do different in the future.

Police say at 1:35 a.m. Sunday they believe Bret Pepper, 39, shot his wife Jill Pepper, 37, and then turned the handgun on himself at their residence at 580 N. Franklin Road.

The incident was reported by a 20-year-old daughter, police said.

The daughter called 911 and reported her mother and father had been arguing and she heard what sounded like loud bangs.

After checking on her parents, she found them both with gunshot wounds.

Also present, police said were 10- and 13-year-old sons who were taken from the home by family members.

“If you have even the slightest inkling that someone you love might be so depressed that they might consider taking their own life, ask,” was the advise given Sunday by Rev. Gage Church of the Congregational United Church of Christ.

Church is a trained instructor in suicide prevention with N.U. Hope Task Force.

N.U. HOPE is a Top of Utah effort to train everyday people to recognize when someone is considering suicide and then act in ways that can lead the person to safety.

HOPE in the effort’s name, stands for Hold on. Persuade. Empower.

Church trains people in QPR, which stands for question the person’s intensions, persuade them to get help and refer them to the proper channels for help, which generally means drive them to the hospital yourself.

Church said people just need to know to ask a person if they have thought about killing themselves.

“You won’t plant the idea in someone’s mind,” he said. “No one has ever killed themselves because someone planted the idea.”

And a local counselor said to ask questions that can help gather information about how detailed a person’s plan is to kill themselves.

For instance, she said if the person has picked the date and the method, your concern in immediately helping them should be more intense.

“Statistics show that often you will get an honest answer,” Church said of asking a person if they want to kill themselves.

“Ask if they have a plan, if they have the means,” he said. “If they admit they have no hope, life is not worth living, ask them to go with you to the hospital. If you have to leave them, make them promise you, at least until then, that they won’t do anything at least until you return.”

Once at the hospital, a suicidal person generally is kept for 72 hours, a counselor said.

In that time, hospital staff work to stabilize the person with medications and follow-up appointments with professionals who are trained to help them.

“What people who have these feelings need is help in finding hope,” Church said. “We all can help them to find the hope to take one more step.”

The number to the Weber Mental Health Crisis and Suicide Prevention Hotline is 801-625-3700. This number is designed to be available at all times.

In Davis County, the suicide prevention hotline is 801-773-7060.

If these numbers are not available during an emergency, calling 911 also is an available resource, the counselor said.

N.U. HOPE is concerned enough about suicidal trends in this area that the group is holding a town hall meeting from 10 a.m. to noon Feb. 1, in the auditorium at Ogden High School, 2828 Harrison Blvd.

Anyone interested is invited to attend.

Among those items discussed will be tools and strategies to make a difference and community resources that may help.

Also part of the meeting will be stories from a survivor and opportunities to meet with community resources.

According to information being released by N.U. Hope, in Utah, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death overall and the second leading cause for teens.

In 2012, 545 Utahns lost their lives from suicide. That number represents 20.9 people per 100,000 in population.

In that time, 51 people died of suicidein Weber County. That’s 23 people per 100,000.

“Suicide is a serious issue in Weber County,” said N.U. Hope’s information.

“This is an incredibly sad incident for the family, especially during the holiday season, and we would like to express our sympathies to family and friends of the Peppers,” said a news release from Layton police.

Contact reporter JaNae Francis at 801-625-4228 or Follow her on Twitter at


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