As local health professionals and others continue their ongoing work to address the growing problem of suicide in the Bear River area, a coalition of volunteers is inviting members of the community to come to an event in Tremonton this Thursday, not just to see what support systems are available, but to hear from them as well about what is still needed.
The Northern Box Elder County Suicide Prevention Coalition will hold a town hall meeting event from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26 at the Box Elder County Fairgrounds, 320 N. 1000 West. The event, held under the theme “From Hope to Cope: Come Curious and Leave Empowered,” will cover topics including suicide prevention, hope squads, grief, yoga, community health centers, focus groups and sand therapy.
Dorene Stever, a member of the coalition and one of the event organizers, said the event is for families and people of all ages.
“We don’t have a lot of services in our area, but it’s getting better,” Stever said. “This will give people ideas and some things they can take home and use.”
The event will feature several guest speakers and presenters.
Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness will be there to talk about support for people in the long-term recovery process from addiction, which is a major contributing factor to suicide.
Local marriage and family therapist Paul Newman will speak about suicide prevention and give a presentation on sand therapy, a technique that uses sand trays and miniature objects for people to express to emotions that can be difficult to talk about.
“It’s something he uses and it seems very effective,” Stever said.
Jason Williams, a psychiatrist based in Brigham City, will be on hand to talk about helping people cope with grief, which can be especially challenging for those affected by suicide.
“It’s tough under normal circumstances, but with suicide, there’s an addition stigma that goes with it,” Stever said.
Tiffany Palmer, a local suicide awareness advocate, will talk about the stigma her family faced after her brother committed suicide.
Tim Keaty of USU Extension will lead focus groups for people to brainstorm and give feedback about what resources are still needed in the community.
Also in attendance will be local “hope squads,” groups made up of community members who go into local junior and high schools and provide a safe place for students to talk about their feelings and problems. Hope squads are creating by surveying students and asking them “who would you trust to tell your problems to?” Stever said.
The Bear River Health Department will be there to provide information on available resources, and there will even be a yoga session to teach simple breathing and meditation techniques — “simple tools people can use when they’re stressed,” Stever said.
Stever, who recently retired from her job as emergency preparedness coordinator at Bear River Valley Hospital, got involved in the cause of suicide prevention and awareness through her own work experience.
“We had people come in and family members asking ‘where do I get help?’” she said. “It’s always been hard in our community, and we thought it was important to get a coalition going. We started inviting people from the community, and we had such a good response. We have a good core in our coalition now, and I’m happy it’s still going after 10 years.”
She said everyone is invited to the free event.
“We’re excited to do this,” Stever said. “It’s easier to bury things in the sand than to talk about them. Our goal in the coalition is to say ‘it’s okay to ask for help.’”
For more information, visit facebook.com/nbecspc