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Suicidal thoughts on rise at Riverton High School

Dec 06, 2016 02:33PM ● Published by Tiffany Webb

The sign at the entrance to Riverton High School, where reportedly suicidal thoughts have been on the rise. (Tiffany Webb/City Journals)

By Tiffany Webb | t.webb@mycityjournals.com


Suicides have been on the rise since 1999 across the nation. Since then, Utah has seen larger increases in suicide than other states.

Healthy Riverton has had a couple areas of emphasis within the community this year, one being traumatic brain injury on the rise in young children—and the other focus is on teen suicide prevention. 

“Recently, our focus has been on Traumatic Brain Injury,” Riverton City Councilwoman Patricia Tingey, said. “Since football season is over, it doesn’t mean that concussions go away, since there are other sports, but our focus for the winter months has changed to teen suicide.” Riverton City Councilwoman Patricia Tingey, said.

Since September, there have been 18 teens from Riverton high school that have been reported for suicidal thoughts. 

“I’m panicked this year,” said Linda Tranter, Riverton High’s Hope Squad Director and student adviser. “In 18 years, I have never seen anything like this. We are in full forces right now watching kids.”

There is hope for these teens and others like them. The Riverton High School Hope Squad is working in conjunction with Hope4Utah—a nonprofit organization that teams up with local schools to aid in the prevention of suicide. Hope4Utah has had a successful track record in the reduction of suicides in Provo for many years. Now, Hope4Utah reaches 65 different cities, 200 schools and has a national presence.

Hope4Utah is successful not only because it helps in schools with the Hope Squads, but it is also successful because of the volunteers in the communities. What Hope4Utah members would like to accomplish in Riverton is to find residents who are passionate about suicide prevention —and to train and certify these individuals who can Question, Persuade and Refer. 

In addition to having Riverton City residents take part, the city council as well as Hope4Utah would like to have local businesses involved in this effort to help prevent suicide. 

“We definitely want businesses involved,” Tingey said.

Hope4Utah Founder and Executive Director Gregory Hudnall said having residents trained in this Question, Persuade and Refer suicide prevention strategy is the same as having CPR-certified residents. Just like CPR saving lives, the certification of citizens in QPR can save lives. This allows people to be aware of the warning signs, take action and save lives.

“If we train enough adults in the community, we can have exactly the same kind of results,” Hudnall said. 

“The high school is still going to do everything they can to prevent suicides and be the lead on that in many ways. What Linda Tranter is asking is for the city to reach out and to help support hope squad in a different way than has been ever done before,” Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth said. 

In addition to volunteering as a resident that can be trained to help prevent suicides, people can also help show their support to Riverton High and all everyone affected by suicide by participating in the Riverton High Hope Walk on Jan. 29 at 9 a.m. 

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