Involving the community in empathy – Training hosted to give people tools to stop suicide

Taryn Hiatt addresses a group of people who gathered for free suicide prevention training Friday in Richfield. Two days of training were hosted for the community at the Calvary Sevier Valley chapel.

Guest trainers from the Life’s Worth Living Foundation and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention came to Richfield Friday and Saturday to help tackle a difficult subject.

The Gateway to Hope training event featured courses including safeTALK, coalition building and QPR [question, persuade, refer]. The two groups teamed up with the Central Utah Counseling Center in bringing the training to Sevier County.

In all, more than 20 attended the safeTALK and coalition building sessions, while the Gateway To Hope QPR sessions drew approximately 55 individuals. 

The goal of the training was to give as many people as possible tools they can use to prevent others from taking their own lives.

“If five people come, that’s five more people who can help,” said Taryn Hiatt, Utah/Nevada area director for the AFSP. 

She said while people are being more open about the issues of depression, anxiety and suicide, it’s important for people to show compassion and use language that’s not judgmental.

“It’s part of the human experience,” Hiatt said. She said the training’s main goal is about bringing hope into people’s lives. 

“Society has changed a ton,” said Jon Gossett, founder of the Life’s Worth Living Foundation. “We’re all stuck in our phones and computers. We’re not as connected as we once were with each other.” 

Gossett said part of the two-day training was aimed at helping people to be aware of others, and to use the innate human ability to read other’s emotions. 

He shared a story about leaving a grocery store one day with his wife and walking past a woman who looked visibly upset. 

“I was focused on getting to the car,” Gossett said. “I turned around, and there was my sweet wife.” He said his wife had stopped to ask the woman if she was alright.

Asking questions, especially the difficult one of “are you contemplating suicide or harming yourself,” is a key, Gossett said. 

Following the training, participants were treated to a musical performance by local favorite, Tim Gates, at the conclusion of the event.

Other resources that are available include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800) 273-8255, the University of Utah’s University Neuropsychiatric Institute (801) 587-3000, Intermountain Sevier (435) 393-4100 and Sevier Behavioral Health (435) 893-0644. 

People are also encouraged to download the SafeUT app onto their smart phones, according to Gossett.

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