ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) – Gov. Gary Herbert’s suicide prevention fund awarded nearly $250,000 to nine organizations working to combat suicide, including the St. George-based group Reach4Hope.
Southern Utah community members who have struggled with mental health say prevention and spreading hope are key to treating mental illness.
Sisters Britny and Helen Ramirez of St. George said they’ve struggled with depression and anxiety and contemplated suicide throughout their teens, and after reaching out to school counselors for help, they began turning to each other for support.
“My friends never really talked about it, and my family didn’t really talk about it,” said Helen Ramirez. “[My sisters and I] kind of made it something that’s been able to become an open conversation and something that shouldn’t be frowned upon.”
The most recent data from Utah Foundation ranks the state fifth in the nation for suicide rates.
The governor’s suicide prevention fund awarded Reach4Hope a $7,500 grant, as staff aim to reduce suicide through education, awareness, collaboration, and hope.
“It’s something that we can bring them out of if we show compassion and give them back the hope that they had,” National Alliance on Mental Illness community liaison Lynn Bjorkman said. “Hopelessness is the big thing that we need to combat.”
Bjorkman said the group offers educational programs such as QPR, which involves 3 steps to prevent suicide. The first step is to ask people directly if they’re thinking about suicide, then persuading them to get help and referring them to a mental health professional.
Reach4Hope has trained nearly 8,000 people in QPR and hopes to reach 54,000 people in the next ten years.