Groups hope to spur awareness for suicide prevention; resources

ST. GEORGE – The second week in September is National Suicide Awareness Week. In an effort to promote awareness in Southern Utah, the group REACH4HOPE is partnering with other agencies to educate the public on a subject that tends to be stigmatized or outright ignored due to its troubling nature.

“We’re out to talk about it,” said Lynn Bjorkman, of REACH4HOPE, as he addressed the St. George City Council Thursday. “It won’t make it better to ignore it.”

During the council meeting, Mayor Jon Pike read a proclamation recognizing National Suicide Awareness Week, Sept. 8-12, in St. George.

Suicide prevention is everyone’s business,” Pike said.

According to 2012 data from the Utah Department of Health, Utah ranks seventh in the nation for suicide, and fifth in the nation for youth suicides.

In Utah, Pike said as he read the proclamation, more adults in Utah have thought about suicide than any other state.

Nationally, according to data from the American Association of Suicidology, one person completes suicide every 13 minutes. It’s also estimated that more than five million people in the United States have been directly affected by a suicide.

Present at the City Council meeting for the proclamation reading were also staff of the St. George Vets Center and members of the Mayor’s Veterans Advisory Council. It is estimated that 22 veterans commit suicide each day.

“It’s very sobering,” Pike said.

Bjorkman said, via an Intermoutnain Healthcare news release, that:

Experts believe that most suicidal individuals do not want to die. They just want to end the pain they are experiencing. Experts also know that suicidal crises tend to be brief. When suicidal behaviors are detected early, lives can be saved.

Most people don’t realize that suicide is such a problem because as a society, we don’t talk about it. There is a stigma that surrounds suicide, even more than mental health issues in general. The key suicide risk factor is an undiagnosed, untreated, or ineffectively treated mental disorder. Research shows that over 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a mental disorder at the time of their death.

An open discussion of suicide is the first step in prevention, Bjorkman said. That is why in conjunction with National Suicide Awareness Week – Sept. 8-14 – REACH4HOPE is collaborating with Washington County School District, Southwest Behavioral Health Center, Intermountain Healthcare, Dixie State University, local mental health professionals, and others to educate the public on what to do if they know someone who may be considering taking their own life.

“There is hope,” Bjorkman said. “So many individuals are spiraling downward to where there is no feeling of hope at all, but they can come out of it and enjoy life if they get the help they need.”

Week’s events

  • Sept. 8 | 7 p.m. | St. George Mayor Jon Pike kicks-off Suicide Prevention Awareness Week | SelectHealth Auditorium, 1424 East Foremaster Drive, St. George
  • Sept. 9 | 7 p.m. | Pine View High School hosts a panel of suicide survivors | Pine View High school Little Theater, 2850 East 750 North, St George
  • Sept. 10 | Noon | Dixie State University hosts “Hope and Healing” with Tina Hender, board member of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention and two-time survivor of suicide loss, and Eva Beatty, LCSW | Gardner Center Room B
  • Sept. 11 | 7 p.m. | Learn QPR – Question, Persuade, Refer – techniques | SelectHealth Auditorium,1424 East Foremaster Drive, St. George
  • Sept. 27 | 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. | “Out of the Darkness Walk” | Highland Park in Washington City | Register online here

For more information about suicide prevention or any of these events, call 435-256-8351.


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Copyright St. George News, 2014, all rights reserved.


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