HERRIMAN – The community of Herriman is dealing with a crisis. A high school student took his own life – the sixth youth suicide reported since last summer.
State and local health leaders say they’re looking into several other youth suicides in that southwest corner of Salt Lake County.
Crisis counselors were on hand Thursday to comfort Herriman High students who are grieving the loss of a fellow classmate who died by suicide. The tight-knit community is hurting too.
“We`ve all been affected emotionally by the loss of these five kids already. This just hits home again,” said Kyndel Marcroft, a licensed clinical social worker and parent of two Herriman High school students.
Marcroft holds support groups for parents – many whose children took their own lives.
“We're banging our heads - why? Why does this keep happening? Sometimes it catches,” Marcroft said.
Marcroft says we need to stop the stigma on mental illness by making it OK for people to talk about it and let them know where there is help available. Schools must also have mental health resources available for students of all ages.
“Before we even reach high school, are we teaching resilience? Are we teaching kids leadership? Are we teaching kids connection from an early age?” Marcroft asked.
Ryan Cherry, a student at Herriman High, says the school has been devastated by all the tragedies.
“I think it's a little slump that kids go through; it's hard to get out of, it's really hard," he said.
He says he felt like an outsider at school, and that’s why he is starting up a chapter of the Golden Gate club – to give students a place to have friends and to make friends.
“That's the main purpose of this club: to save a kid's life," Cherry said. "To help one another. Just to smile at some kids.”
Administrators and students aren’t the only ones looking for solutions.
“We're trying to start a conversation," said Teddy Hodges.
Hodges is part of the Herriman Community Awareness group. They’re holding a public meeting on May 17 at City Hall at 6 p.m. to address risk factors and suicide prevention strategies.
“There is going to be a next one if this community doesn't step up," Hodges said. "It's a parent issue, and we need to make sure the parents are involved and have the information and resources.”
The Utah Department of Health has reported in 2017 there were 42 youth aged 10-17 who died from suicide in Utah. Here is a list of resources and warning signs:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK
- SafeUT Crisis Text and Tip Line app: This app is a statewide service that provides 24/7 crisis intervention to youth through texting and a confidential tip program.
- Salt Lake County Crisis Services including Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams 801-587-3000
- Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens 1-866-488-7386
- Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition
- Utah Chapter - American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- NAMI Utah
- Provide a list of warning signs. Warning signs may include:
- Talking about or making plans for suicide. Many people who are suicidal talk about ending their lives either directly or indirectly. They may say it outright or they might joke about it. They may say they have no reason to live, that they feel trapped, feel overwhelmed, are in unbearable pain, feel hopelessness or worthless, or even say they are a burden to others. Take these comments seriously.
- Displaying overwhelming emotional pain or distress which may also manifest as physical complaints such as aches, fatigue, migraines, etc.
- Searching online about suicide and suicide methods.
- Showing worrisome behaviors or marked changes in behavior, such as:
- Withdrawal from friends, family, or activities they normally enjoy
- Changes in sleep or eating habits
- Increased depression, apathy, rage, irritability, impulsivity, humiliation, or anxiety---moods you would expect of someone who feels overwhelmed and desperate
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Dramatic mood changes
- Loss of interest in schoolwork or having a hard time concentrating
- Giving prized possessions away