HURRICANE, Utah (ABC4) – 65-year-old Jana Anderson is spending time at the Hurricane Senior Citizen’s Center. She says it’s one place she can make connections with people her age, which has been difficult for her after the loss of her husband.
“I’ve been alone for 20 years but only recently all 5 of my children have gone out on their own and I’m really alone,” she says.
Anderson says she has dealt with her fair share of mental health challenges, after struggling with post-partum depression in her youth, her husband’s murder 20 years ago, and a recent surgery on her brain.
“I’m lucky, I have lots of friends, lots of activities, and I stay busy but I can see a lot of people being very lonely, and I think it’s a very serious thing we have to think about,” she says.
It’s something leaders like Teresa Willie at Southwest Utah Behavioral Health are thinking about. She says a recent grant allowed them to choose a demographic to focus on preventing suicide through the ‘Live On’ campaign.
“A lot of people don’t think seniors are an at-risk demographic for suicide, but we know that they are based on our local data and we feel that population has been underserved when it comes to suicide prevention,” says Willie.
“COVID was a big thing when everybody was forced to stay home and that was really hard for me, I couldn’t even go to church,” says Anderson.
Willie says the risk for suicide increases specifically for middle-aged men and it’s not something many people talk about.
“Over 22% of our population here is the senior population so that’s a focus we have because it’s higher than the state average,” she says.
Willie says ‘Live On; puts a positive spin on suicide prevention. The campaign pushes online resources on how to get help for yourself and others.
Anderson says keeping busy is what helps her live on.
The campaign isn’t just for seniors, there are resources for several other demographics as well. For more information, click here.