OGDEN, Utah – Health educators are trying to remove the taboo of talking about suicide. That’s why they spent Monday night teaching community members about “mental health first aid.”
Close to 100 Ogden residents attended the town hall style training sponsored by the Weber-Morgan Health Department. According to presenters, 567 people died from suicide in Utah in 2015, a large percentage from the Weber area.
That’s why they’re teaching about QPR, an acronym meaning “Question, Persuade and Refer.”
“We need to be willing to say the word, talk about it,” said Northern Utah HOPE coordinator Kristy Jones. “It is scary… suicide is a scary subject. But if we don’t intervene and if we don’t do something, those butterflies are going to turn into mourning.”
Counselors say the goal is not to have people act as therapists, but to be ready to have open, frank conversations with someone they think might be contemplating suicide.
Warning signs for suicide include ongoing depression, becoming withdrawn, or a change in mood or behavior.
The Weber-Morgan Health Department partnered with half a dozen different outreach groups Monday to hand out information, letting community members know they exist and are ready to help.
“We want to save lives tonight,” said Ogden City schools lead counselor Jody Hansen. “That’s what the emphasis is; teaching others to be aware of warning signs, and know how to refer others for help.”
Community members aged 13 and older attended the training. While it was held at Ogden High School, Hansen said it’s not just information for parents and students. It’s for anyone feeling overwhelmed with life.
A list of community resources can be found on the Weber-Morgan Health Department’s website, http://www.webermorganhealth.org/suicide-prevention.php
The number for the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention hotline is 1-800-273-TALK.