Cache Valley’s Suicide Awareness and Prevention Efforts
Jenny Mathews, contributing writer
For survivors, families, teachers, students, and neighbors, suicide is a heartbreaking reality that leaves us wondering what more we could have done. We mourn together for each precious life that is taken too soon. We wonder and worry about who else may be suffering. We search our souls for meaning and comfort.
Recent tragedies left Margaret Gittins, of Paradise, feeling desperate to do something. Margaret is the owner of Smackerel, a catering, events, and specialty foods company. She had seen a friend post on social media about a concert to raise suicide awareness, featuring artist Alex Boye, that had been held in Utah County. From the time she reached out to the first person about having the same concert here in Cache Valley, to the time it was both scheduled and fairly well funded, was less than two hours.
“It was the worst possible timing for me,” Margaret said. “I was so incredibly busy. But literally all I had to do was get the ball rolling and our community stepped up.”
The concert was beautifully done, well attended, and a healing experience for many attendees. It is already scheduled to happen again on September 10, 2022.
Cache Valley has quite a few resources to help those who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide and for the people who care about them. Among the options are training courses through the public schools, including mental health screenings and QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training through The Family Place or Bear River Health Department, on how to recognize the signs of suicidal ideation, and what to do when you see them in someone you care about.
What are the signs that someone may be having thoughts of suicide? It is important to look for key themes: Do they feel lonely, shameful, or like they are a burden to others? Do they feel trapped, enraged, or are they suffering from extreme emotional or physical pain? Have their moods, social life, eating habits, or substance use habits changed dramatically? Are they withdrawing from the people who care about them? If the answer is yes to any of those questions, it is time for QPR.
WHAT IS QPR TRAINING AND HOW DOES IT HELP?
• Question someone who you think may be struggling. Say the word suicide. For example, you could say, “Bob, are you thinking about suicide?” Asking about suicide does not increase the risk of the person feeling more suicidal.
• Persuade the individual to hang on a little longer. Tell them why they are loved and needed.
• Refer them to a crisis line or mental health professional. Our local emergency rooms are also equipped to handle mental health crises.