Suicide prevention resources in Southern Utah; hope, help for those in need

ST. GEORGE – Suicide is a tragedy that rips at the fabric of families and community and impacts countless lives, even more heartbreaking during the holidays. It is preventable.

Whether you’re concerned for a loved one, looking to raise awareness or feeling down yourself, reach out to the resources in Southern Utah offering gifts of hope and help.

According to a January 2013 report from the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, Utah has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation (16.8 per 100,000 persons, as compared to the U.S. average of 11.4). The local numbers are even higher, 20.8.

Southern Utah suicides have risen incrementally each year, nearly doubling from 2007 to 2011.

“There’s a lot of theories about why there are so many suicides in the area, but the truth is that there’s no real answer,” said Michael Cain, clinical director of the Southwest Behavioral Health Center.

If you or someone you know is in danger because of suicidal thoughts or actions, call 911 immediately. Suicide is an emergency that requires help by trained medical professionals and should always be treated seriously.

Nationwide suicide hotlines, 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) and 1-800-273-TALK (8255), have counselors available 24/7. The Southwest Behavioral Health Center also offers help for Southern Utah residents; telephone 800-574-6763 or 435-634-5600.

Other resources include, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the American Association of Suicidology. All provide comprehensive information and help on the issue of suicide, from prevention to treatment to coping with loss.

The most important thing is to know you’re not alone,” said Paula Larsen, founder of the Survivors of Suicide (SOS) Loss support group in St. George. “There is someone waiting to help you right now. Reach out.”

The SBHC offers educational programs, QPR and Mental Health First Aid, to the public in an effort to grow awareness of the issue of suicide and train in prevention.

Focusing on prevention basics, QPR teaches people to recognize the warning signs of suicide and act to avoid a possible tragedy in a clear, concise 2.5-hour class. Mental Health First Aid is an interactive eight-hour course dealing with mental illness and substance abuse problems, and is recommended for those who work or volunteer in fields where one might encounter an emotionally vulnerable individual. These programs are taught and employed by police departments, school districts, faith groups, hospitals and clinics across the country. Neither are intended to replace the professional help a suicidal person needs, but can save a life in a time of crisis.

Both courses will be offered throughout the coming year in St. George and Cedar City. For a schedule, prices and more information, see the flyers for QPR, Adult Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid or contact Jennifer Gray at 435-634-5603 or [email protected].

REACH4HOPE is a coalition that works with SBHC, Dixie Regional Medical Center, Dixie State University, therapists, counselors, local police departments and community members to reduce suicide through education, awareness and cooperation.

“Only by working together can we address the problem of suicide in our community,” president Lynn Bjorkman said. “The impacts of suicide are boundless, but so can the positive effects be if we understand it.”

Approximately 36,000 Americans take their own lives each year, more than the number of people killed in traffic accidents. Suicide knows no boundaries and does not discriminate based on age, gender, race or background. From mental illness and substance abuse to violence and social pressure, many factors overwhelm an individual’s ability to cope emotionally and make them feel like there’s no way out.

But there’s always another option, and help is a just a step away.

No matter your position in the fight to prevent suicide, having aid available and someone who cares makes all the difference. Know you’re not alone.

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  • Marilyn Reeves December 24, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Suicide is a very real tragedy. I have had a brother who committed suicide and just recently have had a son who attempted suicide and as a result had a major stroke and is nothing like himself. I have been looking for a group that maybe I could attend to help me deal with the aftermath of this tragedy and how to cope with the changes that have occurred. If you know of a group I would be very appreciative. Thanks

  • Alarmed December 24, 2013 at 10:16 am

    “According to a January 2013 report from the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, Utah has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation (16.8 per 100,000 persons, as compared to the U.S. average of 11.4). The local numbers are even higher, 20.8.” Is the 20.8 rate just for St George, Washington County or all of southern Utah. It is an alarming statistic, one that local residents seem to prefer to remain silent about, just as they are silent about the alarming rate of drug abuse in the area. Just because you want to pretend the problem doesn’t exist doesn’t make the problem go away.

  • bUB December 24, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    I’m told that mental illness is a huge stigma in the mormon church. Probably dentures a lot of people who need help from getting it.

    • JamesB December 24, 2013 at 2:40 pm

      Where did you hear that? You need more reliable sources buB.

    • Possibility? December 24, 2013 at 4:11 pm

      With as many kids as mormons have, starting when they are just kids themselves, how many suicides are brought on with postpartum depression by the female with the males suddenly realizing they can’t afford all those kids? Nobody seems to teach them to grow up first and how to assume financial planning and adult responsibility. Nope. It’s hurry up and have babies and more babies and more babies and as fast as you can. It’s a religious obligation. Got to make bodies for all those souls flying around out there.

    • bUB December 24, 2013 at 7:25 pm

      LOL, *deters not dentures

      spellcheck malfunction 🙂

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