Dixie State shares powerful message on suicide, mental health with emotional music video

ST. GEORGE — In conjunction with its Mental Wellness Week, Dixie State University shared the message of “It’s OK not to be OK” through a presentation of a powerful music video.

Jordon Sharp, chief marketing and communication officer for Dixie State University, presents a music video for the song “You will be found” at the Eccles Main Stage Theatre in St. George, Utah, March 21, 2019 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

After premiering the emotional music video for “You will be found” featuring Dixie State’s song and dance performance team Raging Red Thursday afternoon, the room was silent. The only sound was quiet sniffling, while peopled wiped away tears rolling down their cheeks.

The song, written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul for the stage musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” presents a strong message about mental illness, specifically suicide.

To raise awareness for mental health struggles, Dixie State’s marketing team and Raging Red created the music video with a little less than a month to do so. The video features Raging Red performers holding up signs with struggles that resonated with them, such as addiction, racism, self-harm, abuse, anxiety and depression.

“What’s powerful about this number is each one of these students hold signs, and each one of these signs has a particular meaning to them,” said Jordon Sharp, DSU chief marketing and communication officer. “And every one of the stories is true.”

Throughout the music video, Issac Castaneda, a sophomore dance major and the main subject of the video, holds up a sign saying “I’m not okay.” For him, the sign and the song are a representation of how he felt when he first started attending Dixie State. Castaneda and his best friend were both planning on attending the university together when his best friend committed suicide – ultimately leading to him feeling lost and suffering from thoughts of suicide.

“The aftermath of my friend leaving, of taking his own life, I saw what it does to people,” he explained in a behind-the-scenes documentary on the video. “And because I was thinking that I wanted to do the same, I didn’t want to inflict that on anyone else. So I didn’t want anyone in my life.”

Besides Castaneda sharing his story and what it was like to film the music video, other performers discussed why they chose to hold the signs that they did in the documentary.

“I would sit by myself or I would be with a group of people, and no one was there,” said Raging Red member Aspen Fairbanks, as she explained why she chose to hold the sign for “anxiety and depression.”

After premiering the music video and the behind-the-scenes documentary, Dean of Students Del Beatty moderated a Q&A featuring a panel of mental health professionals from the university and surrounding area. Director Dylan Matsumori, of the Health and Counseling Center; Jamy Dahle, a mental health counselor and outreach coordinator; Dr. Paul Staheli, a psychologist with the Southwest Behavioral Health Center; and Jeremy Nielsen, behavioral health manager for Intermountain Healthcare, discussed what mental illness is, the stigma surrounding it and what resources are available in the community. Merrilee Webb, former director of Raging Red, also joined the panel.

Matsumori described mental health as being a continuum.

A panel of mental health experts at the presentation of a music video for the song “You will be found” at the Eccles Main Stage Theatre in St. George, Utah, March 21, 2019 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

“Mental health is something you can be healthy in or you can be ill in,” he said. “It’s a variable that continues to go back and forth on a continuum depending on what’s going on in your life.”

Panelists also discussed the stigma of people believing that mental illness is something that you can just quickly get over.

“Oftentimes, individuals don’t know how to respond to somebody that may be struggling with a mental health issue,” Dahle said. “A lot of times that is because we feel uncomfortable and we don’t know how to respond, so we say, ‘You’re fine; you’ll get over it.'”

In order to help break the stigma, panelists suggested that people be more open minded and to validate someone’s feelings if they reach out to you about their struggles. If someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts, it’s important to get them to professional help as soon as possible.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

The Dixie State Health and Counseling Center is located at 1037 E. 100 South. To make an appointment, call 435-652-7755.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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