SALT LAKE CITY – How our communities respond after a suicide death is important, and that’s why the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition created an online toolkit to help Utah communities respond after a suicide.
Suicides can create a ripple effect that impacts loved ones and the wider community.
“How we respond and how we talk about it is a really important aspect of follow-up,” said Carol Ruddell, the Utah Department of Health’s suicide prevention officer.
After a suicidal death, it’s important to grieve for the loss of a loved one, Ruddell said. Postvention is an organized response after suicide to promote healing, mitigate other adverse effects, and prevent suicide in high-risk individuals.
“Ultimately, I believe it saves lives,” Ruddell said. “Follow-up after a suicide is just as important and is actually part of suicide prevention.”
The Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition has released the Utah Community Postvention Toolkit. It guides communities to plan and respond safely.
“There’s this ripple effect when we have a suicide death. For every suicide death that we know of, there are approximately 130 people who may be affected by that one death,” said Benee Larsen, director of prevention at the National Alliance on Mental Illness Utah.
Communities can use the toolkit to care for affected community members of diverse backgrounds, from school children to colleagues to military veterans. Health and Human Services will host webinars and meet with community leaders.
“If you have someone dying within the community, make sure we don’t share the causes of death or images of the death. But instead we’re delivering hopeful messages, maybe a picture of the person when they were happy,” Larsen said.
The tool includes a step-by-step process.
“Focus on the hopeful part of the individual’s life,” Larsen said.
The toolkit is on the liveonutah.org website and anyone can use it to find help for their family or community.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or showing warning signs, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Utah Crisis Line below 1-800-273-8255which is answered 24/7 by Crisis Advisors at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute.
You can also send an SMS TALK to 741741 and parents, students and educators can download the SafeUT app, chat or call 833-3SAFEUT to contact a licensed crisis counselor.
- Parents, students and educators can download the SafeUT app chat or call 833-3SAFEUT to connect with a licensed crisis counselor.
- First responders, including firefighters, law enforcement, emergency responders, and medical professionals can chat with a crisis advisor for free 24/7 by downloading the SafeUT Frontline app, and National Guard members can access help through the SafeUTNG app.
- For non-crisis situations when you need a listening ear while you heal and recover from a personal struggle, call the Utah Warm Line at 1-833 SPEAKUT 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., 7 days a week, 365 days to year.
- At the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, women have access to maternal mental health services including birth trauma, miscarriage, infertility, and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
- LiveOnUtah.org, a campaign by the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition, provides suicide prevention training and resources for religious groups, youth, LGBTQ+ and employers.
Other community-based organizations that provide suicide prevention services, support groups, mental health education, counseling services, and support:
Additional crisis hotlines
- Utah County Emergency Line: 801-226-4433
- Salt Lake County/UNI Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
- Wasatch Mental Health Crisis Line: 801-373-7393
- National Suicide Prevention Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741-741
- Trevor Project LGBTQ Teen Hotline: 1-866-488-7386