“Experts believe that most suicidal individuals do not want to die,” said Lynn Bjorkman of REACH4HOPE (formerly the HOPE task force) in southern Utah. “They just want to end the pain they are experiencing. Experts also know that suicidal crises tend to be brief. When suicidal behaviors are detected early, lives can be saved.”
If those numbers surprise you, there’s a reason why. “Most people don’t realize that suicide is such a problem because as a society, we don’t talk about it,” said Bjorkman. “There is a stigma that surrounds suicide, even more than mental health issues in general. The key suicide risk factor is an undiagnosed, untreated, or ineffectively treated mental disorder. Research shows that over 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a mental disorder at the time of their death.”
Bjorkman said an open discussion of suicide is the first step in prevention. That is why in conjunction with National Suicide Awareness Week (second week of September), REACH4HOPE is collaborating with Washington County School District, Southwest Behavioral Health Center, Intermountain Healthcare, Dixie State University, local mental health professionals, and others to educate the public on what to do if they know someone who may be considering taking their own life.
The week’s events begin on Sept. 4, when REACH4HOPE will present a proclamation localizing Suicide Prevention Awareness Week in the City Council Chambers at 5 p.m. Then on Sept. 8, Mayor Jon Pike will open the week with a keynote address at 7 p.m. in the SelectHealth Auditorium, 1424 E. Foremaster Drive. Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. Pine View High welcomes the public to their Little Theater to learn from a panel of suicide survivors. Sept. 10 at noon Dixie State University presents an address by Tina Hender, a board member for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (Utah Chapter) and two-time survivor of suicide loss, in the DSU Gardner Center, Conference Room B. The week’s activities conclude September 11 at 7 p.m. a session teaching the QPR (question, persuade, refer) technique will be held in the SelectHealth Auditorium.
Later in the month, on Sept. 27 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. a commemorative “Out of the Darkness Walk” will be held at Highland Park in Washington City.
“There is hope,” Bjorkman said. “So many individuals are spiraling downward to where there is no feeling of hope at all, but they can come out of it and enjoy life if they get the help they need.” For more information about suicide prevention or any of these events, call (435) 256-8351.