Hope Squad Plans Suicide Prevention Awareness for New Year

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The Hope Squad of Carbon, Emery and Grand Counties discussed big plans for the 2020 year during its meeting on Wednesday morning. Southeast Utah Health Department Suicide Prevention Specialist Amanda McIntosh began the meeting with announcing her new role as the Vice President of the Hope Squad after last term’s meeting.

McIntosh continued with the statistics of the decreasing suicide deaths in Carbon, Emery and Grand counties. In 2018, a total of 12 suicides deaths were reported in the three-county area. That number decreased in 2019 by 25 percent, ending the year with nine preliminary suicide deaths.

“Anything we were doing in the community to lessen those deaths is a win and it makes me push harder to get those numbers even further down,” stated McIntosh.

One of the squad’s strategies to prevent suicides in the area over the last year was Question Persuade Refer (QPR) trainings; Question their suicidal intent, Persuade them to get help and Refer them to the resources in that area. Hope Squad President Debbie Marvadakis and Vice President McIntosh trained over 700 people in QPR over the last year.

“That is 700 more people in our community that are equipped with the three easy steps to save a life,” McIntosh stated.

A large portion of that number came when Marvadakis and McIntosh traveled to SUFCO Mine to train 300 miners with the QPR mission. While traveling south, McIntosh realized that Emery and Grand are lacking resources. The Hope Squad is planning to write a grant to supply money for Emery County to hire a private sector counselor to boost the support.

“We do not have enough Emery County and Grand County resources at our disposal,” said McIntosh. “It’s heartbreaking.”

Plans are also in the works for a Campus Walk in September, which is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP) contacted the Hope Squad with the goal to sponsor a Campus Walk that would initially replace the HOPE Walk. The Hope Squad has also began discussing a November event, in which the AFSP will be the major sponsor, to coincide with the Survivors of Suicide Loss Month.

With the AFSP sponsoring its annual walk along with another event, the Hope Squad is currently planning for a luau fundraising event in late February or early March to promote healthy living during the winter months. With many of the Hope Squad fundraising events being scheduled, they did take time to give back. The group voted on donating $500 to Grand County School District to bring Youth Advocate Social Media Activist TEDX Speaker Collin Kartchner for an assembly about the dangers of social media.

The meeting ended with a round of applause for McIntosh after announcing that she will be accepting the Presidential Award at the Carbon County Chamber of Commerce Installation Banquet on Thursday, Jan. 16.

“I couldn’t do what I do without all your support and help,” said McIntosh. “You are doing amazing work in our community and it is appreciated and not going unnoticed by the community.”

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