After a bump in reported suicide deaths near the beginning of the year and increased awareness of the perennial issue, organizers hope a new event will help spread a message of hope.
The Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Walk will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the Historic Cache County Courthouse at 199 N. Main Street in Logan. The event is sponsored by the Cache Suicide Prevention Coalition, Bear River Mental Health and Cache County.
The event came about after officials saw a “slight increase” in suicide deaths locally at the beginning of the year, according to Charity Jenson, chair of the Cache Suicide Prevention Coalition. While the numbers looked dramatic to many who are less familiar with local suicide data, Jenson said there wasn’t as much alarm among officials, who can compare numbers year-over-year and consider other factors.
“The suicides that take place in our area are something that we look at really closely with the state, and so even though we did see a slight increase in the beginning months of the year, there wasn’t any clustering or our numbers weren’t so high that we were extremely concerned,” Jenson said. “But that being said, it still raised a lot of awareness among a lot of the people because for whatever reason, people had just become more aware of it.”
One thing she hears often is that people aren’t as aware of what resources are available locally, Jenson said, so increasing organizations’ visibility in the community is one of the event’s goals.
The walk is short, only about three quarters of a mile, Jenson said. The walk will start and end at the courthouse, and there will be organizations supporting mental health and suicide prevention there to share information about resources.
Another way to find out what resources are available locally is Bear River Mental Health’s provider directories.
“It’s got a list of mental health providers, what insurance they accept, what kind of treatment they do, what they specialize in,” Jenson said. “It’s got residential treatment places, it’s got crisis services, it has apps, it has websites.”
Recently another group was thinking about a suicide prevention march but opted for a virtual event. USU’s psychology department participated in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Day of Action Event.
“Typically we would do an in-person walk with a ceremony with speeches from people who’ve had lived experiences,” said organizer Sarah Pope, “but this year because of the pandemic, we decided to do the event virtually.”
The event included a panel of people about lived experiences with suicide and a screening of “Real-Talk,” a short documentary.
“I think with the pandemic, a lot of people have been isolated,” Pope said. “And whether or not we’re aware of it, that impacts our mental health. So now is a really great time to not just be talking about suicide prevention but be active in suicide prevention and reaching out to friends and family.”
As people are getting vaccinated, elderly people could especially benefit from those visits, Pope said, because they can be at higher risk for mental health issues.
“As we all start getting vaccinated, we should start taking that opportunity to start seeing those loved ones that we haven’t seen in a long time,” she said. “Elderly people are at higher risk for mental health issues, and so we should keep those people in mind, as well.”
The event raised funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Donations are still open through https://afsp.donordrive.com/team/usu.
The Bear River Mental Health Provider Directory is available at https://www.brmh.com by clicking on “Resources,” then “Directories.”