She is charged with going to local communities and educating them about resources in the area and helping them expand their prevention efforts. She usually starts by showing them the state data on suicide and how that is mirrored in their own communities.
"I would say that when communities sit down and look at the data, they're really surprised," Myers said. "And, for the most part, people aren't aware of how big of an issue it is."
She, like Hudnall, talked about the importance of groups and individuals uniting and working together to tackle the issue. But there is also a responsibility for individuals to educate themselves to know how to help.
"I think that one of the most important things that people need to know and can take with them is that if you are worried about someone or if someone is showing warning signs of suicide, it's OK to talk to them about it," Myers said. "It's OK to ask.
"There's a lot of fear about asking if someone is thinking of taking their own lives, because you don't want to plant ideas, but research shows that talking about it is good and saves lives. We have good crisis lines. Don't be afraid to ask. There's no research that says you're going to hurt anyone by asking."
She stressed the importance of be willing to talk with someone struggling with thoughts of suicide without judgment and with empathy.
"That's a really dark place to be and it's usually not because they want their life to be over, but became they want pain to end," Myers said.
Stopping impulsive acts
Doug Thomas, of the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, said suicide is often an impulsive act, frequently tied to mental health issues that are then aggravated by divorce, health problems, job loss or other factors. It's also something that often takes place in conjunction with drug or alcohol use and is then completed or attempted by those with access to lethal means.
"Usually, people who have suicidal thoughts and suicidal feelings, they’re not permanent," Thomas said. "They feel permanent... but suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
"We think that if we're strong, we can deal with it on our own, but strong people ask for help when they need help."
He said treatment for thoughts of suicide is effective if help is sought and that suicidal thoughts should be treated the same way any other ailment would be treated. Each individual should take care of their own mental health the way they would their physical health.
"There’s a sense that, 'Well this couldn’t happen to me or my family' and the reality is, we all probably know someone who has either been suicidal or has attempted suicide," Thomas said.
"It’s a delicate topic because we feel strongly about ... the sanctity of life and we want people to pull themselves up by their boot straps, but you wouldn't say that if their blood sugar was low and they had diabetes."
Three resources can help immediately.
The Hope Task Force website, established by Hudnall, lists resources for help at http://hope4utah.com/.
The national suicide prevention lifeline, 1-800 273-TALK (8255) will direct callers to local help.
The Uni Crisis Intervention help line at (801) 587-3000 will connect callers with mental health professionals in Utah 24 hours a day.
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