ST. GEORGE — Reach4hope Utah is auctioning off a painting throughout the month of February to raise funds for suicide prevention programs and education.
The painting was created by Utah native and world-renowned artist Frederick Stephens and donated by suicide-attempt survivor Paige Foster. Having both been affected by suicide, Stephens and Foster wanted to contribute to prevention efforts, Foster told St. George News.
“I hope that with this money that we’re raising that we’re able to help and take the normalcy out of suicide,” she said. “It’s kind of normal, you know, if you watch TV you hear, ‘Three kids committed suicide.’ It’s normal, and I don’t want it to be normal, I just want people to get help.”
Stephens and Foster met over Facebook, where Foster often advocates for suicide awareness and prevention. Stephens was touched by her openness and gave her the painting, asking her to find a way to auction it off for suicide awareness. Foster had no experience in auctioning, but after some searching she found Reach4hope. The organization interested her because of their work with children, veterans and others affected by suicide, she said.
Reach4hope is a community coalition that strives to reduce risk factors, raise awareness and implement strategies to combat suicide with the help of local partners.
Reach4hope teaches suicide prevention trainings and firearm safety courses in the St. George area and in schools and works with policymakers to create legislation that will create more suicide awareness and education. The funds from the art auction will go toward all of these efforts, Teresa Willie, Washington County Reach4hope suicide prevention coalition coordinator, told St. George News.
In the past year, during the coronavirus pandemic, suicide numbers have dropped and calls to Reach4hope’s hotline have gone up, Willie said.
“We just want to be able to continue our suicide prevention efforts,” she said. “We hope that we’ve reduced stigma enough that people are comfortable reaching out. So we’ve reduced the death numbers, (but) our goal is zero suicides; and until we get to that point, we’re going to keep doing that to help people be safe.”
It can be easy for a person with suicidal thoughts to feel like nobody cares, Foster said. On her social media, the message she tries to convey is that everybody matters, and there is always somebody who cares. Reach4hope is an example of an organization that cares, she said.
“Organizations like Reach4hope and individuals like Frederick are willing to be so generous and giving, but for a cause to make everybody understand how loved they are,” she said. “There’s a lot of unselfish people in this world who are willing to help for no other reason except that they care.”
Bidding on the painting started on Feb. 1 and will go on until the end of the month. To bid, visit Reach4hope’s fundraising page. For anyone who is unable to bid but would like to contribute, Reach4hope is also accepting donations. For more information about the auction, visit Reach4hope’s Facebook page.
Reach4hope’s 24-hour crisis hotline can be reached anytime at 1-800-273-8255.
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