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Northern Utah HOPE (Hold On, Persuade, Empower) will hold its sixth annual suicide prevention and awareness walk Saturday on 25th Street.
The Weber Coalition for a Healthy Community started the NUHOPE task force in 2007. Members include representatives from local hospitals, social service agencies, survivors, students and members of the general public, and are divided into four working communities: Community Assessment, Public Awareness, School Programs and Survivors.
“The purpose of the event is to raise public awareness about the problem of suicide in our community,” said Dianna K. Abel, director of the Weber State University Counseling & Psychological Services Center.
Adrienne Andrews, WSU special assistant to the president for diversity, said suicide is a particularly dangerous kind of beast because if can affect anyone.
“Suicide does not discriminate; it can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time.”
Even though suicide can impact any type or group of people, certain groups are at a higher risk than others.
“If we are looking at the numbers,” Andrews said, “I believe that the LGBT population is nine times more likely to commit suicide.”
Lola Moli, WSU diversity vice president, said she thinks coming out is particularly different in Utah, which is likely a contributing factor in the LGBTQ suicide rate.
“I think (suicide is) something that affects the LGBT community, which is something that I care about as an advocate,” said WSU LGBTQ advocate Karlee Berezay. “It’s a difficult place to be. Identity plays a huge role into suicide.”
According to Tamara Robinette, a counselor with the WSU Counseling & Psychological Services Center, 360 people in Utah committed suicide in 2012. That amounts to more than one per day.
“My bet is that if you asked everyone on this campus if they are aware of someone in a family that has committed suicide, the answer will be yes, they know somebody somewhere,” Robinette said.
The other purpose of the awareness walk is to help those who have lost someone to suicide, Abel said.
“It also gives people who have lost someone to suicide the opportunity to honor their loved ones. We hear from people that it’s often the only event that they can actually talk about the person they lost.”
The suicide walk is not the only event NUHOPE sponsors. QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) helps train individuals to identify people who may be struggling with suicide.
“This is a nationally standardized prevention curriculum; we train it all around the community,” Abel said. “This is an opportunity for us to get everyone involved to recognize the clues of suicide.”
Abel recently held a training session for student leaders in prevention methods and signs. Moli said she thinks the training she received will help her identify people who are struggling and allow her to help them.
“It is critical, as educators, as advocates, as mentors and supporters of students, that we understand the dynamics of suicide, as well as suicide prevention,” Andrews said.
Berezay said she thinks it’s important that those who have lost someone to suicide know there is a prevention task force available.
“There are a lot of people left behind from stuff like that,” she said. “There should be support for these people. There should be the ability to look out and see the large amount of people that understand what it’s like to come from these experiences.”
NUHOPE is located on 4401 Harrison Blvd., and offers 24-hour assistance through its toll-free U.S. National Suicide Hotlines and Weber Mental Health Crisis/Suicide Prevention Hotline at 801-625-3700.