By Traci Bishop and Amanda McIntosh
Continuing to push the narrative of awareness throughout Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month, a Walk to Fight Suicide was hosted at the Price City Peace Garden on Saturday, Sept. 17.
This was hosted from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and was made possible through the HOPE Squad of Carbon, Emery, and Grand Counties, the Southeast Utah Health Department (SEUHD), and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
Amanda McIntosh of the HOPE Squad, the SEUHD and Board Member for AFSP welcomed all that were in attendance before delivering a hopeful message. She stated that by attending, they were showing others that the issue of suicide cannot and will not be kept in the darkness. Suicide is a health issue that affects all. By joining, they are not just walking with those that they saw present, but with others that are fighting suicide in all 50 states.
McIntosh stated that together, they have created a national movement. As a community, they are aware that there is a lot of work that still needs to be done for prevention and awareness. McIntosh said that they must continue to work and fight for a day in which no one will die by suicide.
“We have put safe messaging into our community like never before,” McIntosh stated. More and more people are speaking out about suicide and how it affected their lives, she continued.
This messaging has been distributed in the form of billboards, banners, educational dinners and more. McIntosh also had her daughter, Abbigale, showcase the new LiveOn Utah/HOPE Squad t-shirts, which encourage conversation about your feelings.
McIntosh also stated that a $5,000 goal was set for the area with the American Foundation for Suicide and they were just shy of that goal with $4,095. Although these funds initially go to AFSP, she said that our community sees it by way of brochures, swag and programming, such as Healing Conversations and Talk Saves Lives.
Others graced the stage, including a small group from the Ambassadors for Hope Choir and Dallin Grant who sang numbers focused on strength. Greg Daniels spoke to the participants about his efforts as Emery High School’s counselor and his dedication to starting the first Hope for Utah’s HOPE Squad on his campus.
McIntosh then spoke about the traditional AFSP Honor Beads. There are 10 to choose from, all of which serve a different meaning; white for the loss of a child, red for the loss of a partner or spouse, gold for the loss of a parent, orange for the loss of a sibling, purple for the loss of a relative or friend, silver for the loss of a first responder/military, green for a personal struggle or attempt, teal for supporting someone who struggles or has made an attempt, blue for supporting suicide prevention, and rainbow for honoring the LGBTQ Community.
After reading the meaning behind each color, she invited those connections on stage. By the end of the list, few were left in the audience.
Another partnership the HOPE Squad was happy to announce was one with USUE’s athletic department. This will be a two-year contract for the squad where messages of suicide prevention will hang in the BDAC, on the soccer field and on the baseball field. They welcomed Emmett the Eagle into their community by asking him to escort the walkers around the block carrying the HOPE Squad’s flag raised high in the air. Bill Tice carried the second flag in honor of his son, Billy.
Also available at the event were merchandise, refreshments and educational resources. This event could not have been possible without all the individuals, businesses and community partners that constantly support efforts to end suicide. The HOPE Squad of Carbon, Emery, and Grand Counties would like to thank the following:
A1 Rentals, Castle Country Portables, USU Extension HEART Initiative, CARE Coalition, Multicultural Counseling Center, USARA, Castleview Hospital, Meaningful Mindz, Brandon, Katy, and Alexis Callor, Julie Taylor, Jenny Taylor, Alycia Colunga, Wendy and Carter Grant, Dallin Grant
Ambassadors for Hope Choir, USUE’s Brandi Taylor-Johansen and Emmett the Eagle, Greg Daniels, Walmart, Miss USUE Brooklyn Ward and her attendants, Lita Riley of Tallies and Smallies, and Cole Stapley and his crew with Mountain America Credit Union.