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Suicide Prevention Month is active throughout Utah

By Laura Giles - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Sep 19, 2021

John Minchillo, Associated Press

In this Oct. 15, 2017, photo, a child plays beside a message board adorned with notes for loved ones who took their own lives during an Out of the Darkness Walk event organized by the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at Sawyer Point Park in Cincinnati. (John Minchillo, Associated Press)

September is Suicide Prevention Month, and it is a great time to renew commitments to help others, become better educated and find out about available mental health resources. Across Utah, individuals and organizations are getting the word out about ways to help save lives, educate others about prevention and find hope.

Together we can stop suicide. That is the message that the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is spreading. Taryn Hiatt, the AFSP area director, said that one of the biggest opportunities for suicide prevention is limiting access to lethal means. “Limiting access to firearms and medications saves lives,” she said.

According to Hiatt, individuals with suicidal thoughts who do not have access to lethal tools, such as a gun, do not find another way to take their life, in most cases. Separating an individual from a firearm, even temporarily, can increase the likelihood they don’t die by suicide.

On Sept. 28, AFSP Utah is holding a “Talk Saves Lives” virtual event from 6:30-8 p.m. The presentation will teach participants about common risk factors and ways to keep others safe. Registration and more information is available at http://afsp.org/chapter/Utah.

All month, AFSP has been holding Walk Out of the Darkness events across Utah, with some coming up in the next couple of weeks. Last week, more than 3,000 people participated in West Jordan. These community walks are held in hundreds of cities across the country and not only show support for those affected by suicide, but spread awareness and raise funds for ongoing prevention efforts. Volunteers organize the suicide prevention walks as part of the constant work to prevent suicide.

“Anyone interested in volunteering can visit our website and complete our application,” Hiatt said. “Our volunteer coordinator will be in touch to start your training process.”

Hope4Utah’s 17th annual Walk4Hope will be held on Sept. 25, beginning at Timpanogos Elementary School at 449 N. 500 West in Provo. The walk draws people together every year to bring awareness to suicide in the community and to promote the message of suicide prevention. Registration begins at 9 a.m., with a program at 9:30 and the walk at 10 a.m.

PG Cares, Pleasant Grove’s Communities That Care Coalition, regularly offers free suicide prevention trainings, both in-person and online. The “QPR Spells Hope” trainings teach three important prevention steps: Question, persuade and refer. The next training, on Sept. 25 at 2 p.m., will be held at the Pleasant Grove Library. For more information and to register, go the PG Cares Facebook page or on their Instagram account @pgcares.

Live On Utah, is a statewide effort to reduce suicide. The organization promotes awareness and prevention and offers trainings as well. “The Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition and the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health are committed to training and education on curriculum that can help communities build capacity for effective suicide prevention,” it reads on http://liveonutah.org.

While individuals and organizations are working to prevent suicide, businesses are also implementing this work when possible. Foothill Family Clinic in Cottonwood Heights will begin integrating behavioral health into their primary care practice this fall.

“When taking all measures into account, Utah currently ranks fourth worst in the country for access to mental health, according to Mental Health America. Through this partnership, we have a life-changing opportunity to provide much-needed behavioral health solutions to Utahns who are struggling,” it reads on a media release. Foothill Family Clinic is partnering with evolvedMD, an integrator of behavioral health services and primary care practices, to bring about these changes.

Help is available 24 hours a day by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

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