Our country’s teenagers are being hit hard by the rising suicide rate, dubbed “deaths of despair.”

According to the Wall Street Journal’s April 13-14, 2019 cover story, “Few places have been hit harder than Utah, where the youth suicide rate has more than tripled over the past decade. The state consistently ranks in the top three in suicide among 10 to 17-year-olds,” the CDC says. Suicide is now the leading cause of death in Utah for that age group.

The article follows a suicide cluster in Herriman that began after the suicide of 16-year-old Chandler Voutaz. District officials feared open discussion could make another death more likely but parents in Herriman gave another explanation: A deeply entrenched aversion in the community to discussing mental-health problems or seeking help.

Most problems do not go away if ignored and silence and shaming are not the answers. CONNECT Summit County is deeply committed to creating a well-informed and stigma-free community with access to mental health services for all.

“CONNECT Summit County was formed in 2016 to help people who suffer with mental illness and family members and friends who care for people with mental illness,” says CONNECT’s Acting Executive Director Sheri Fisher. “Through education and by building awareness, CONNECT works towards normalizing the conversation around mental illness in an effort to de-stigmatize what has been viewed with shame for far too long.”

CONNECT will host a number of FREE events for Mental Health Awareness Month in May, including the following that address suicide and resiliency:

Ask Me Anything Night, Thursday, May 2nd at 6:30 p.m. at Hyatt Place Park City. Do you want to know what your teens are REALLY thinking? A panel of Summit County high school students will share their struggles with anxiety, depression, suicide, substance abuse and more in this interactive and vulnerable discussion.

QPR—Question, Persuade and Refer, Thursday, May 9th at 6 p.m. at the South Summit County Services Building in Kamas and Summit County Library in Coalville. QPR follows the three simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Training by Shelley Worley and Alyssa Mitchell from the Summit County Health Department. 

THE S WORD film, Tuesday, May 14 at 6 p.m. A suicide attempt survivor is on a mission to find fellow survivors and document their stories of courage, insight and humor. Along the way, she discovers a rising national movement transforming personal struggles into action. Film Director Lisa Klein will present additional information following the screening.

Images of Resilience, Wednesday, May 22nd at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room in the Park City Library. Join Summit County artists for this special exhibit that showcases inspiring stories of resilience through the medium of art. University of Utah’s professor of psychiatry Dr. Scott Langenecker will share how resilience can be learned, cultivated and strengthened.

According to NAMI, 90 percent of children and adolescents who die by suicide live with a mental health condition. Fisher advocates, “Silence is not the answer. As a society we must continue to talk about mental illness openly, honestly and with a desire to de-stigmatize something that impacts nearly 44 million people annually.”

ABOUT CONNECT 

CONNECT offers year-round educational programming for Summit County residents who are concerned about mental health issues facing our community.  CONNECT’s website includes a mental health resource directory to help residents find appropriate services.

NEW! In June, CONNECT will be expanding their capabilities by providing Peer Navigation Services which will give access live person who has first-hand knowledge of and experience with the behavioral health system. This is a non-clinical, non-crisis service that can help individuals and families identify, articulate and connect with services, supports and information that best meets their needs. Find CONNECT’s Resource Navigation Services and learn more about Mental Health Awareness Month events by going to CONNECTSummitCounty.org.

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