1 suicide, 2 attempts in span of 1 week prompts officials to discuss prevention

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UTAH COUNTY -- One suicide and two attempts in the span of a week at Lone Peak High School in Utah County are prompting heightened focus on the issue.

FOX 13 News has confirmed that a person who jumped to their death at a FrontRunner stop Wednesday was a student at the school.

"It’s very emotional,” said Chief Joseph McRae of the Lone Peak Fire Department.

McRae’s department is not unaccustomed to responding to suicides in the community. In November of last year, they saw two suicides within two weeks in the Alpine School District. The numbers prompted the school to host a suicide prevention forum with parents and staff. Since then, their efforts have only increased. Recently, the school created a video with a message from teachers to students: “We see you.”

"I have kids that go here," McRae said. "I feel the pain of these parents, principal, students. It's hard. Obviously, with our youth, there is something that's lacking. I think that as parents and leaders we're doing everything we can to address this, try to change this."

That effort begins with communication, according to Taryn Aiken of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. A parent in Pleasant Grove, Aiken said the public needs to become more comfortable with talking about suicide in schools and in the community.

"I think the stigma that surrounds suicide and mental illness is what we've got to eliminate,” Aiken said.

Studies show that a series of suicides or attempts so close together, like those at Lone Peak, are becoming more common due to social media and a lack of appropriate discussion on the issue. Aiken worries about the impact sites like Twitter and Facebook can have on a young person battling depression.

"Unfortunately, somebody posts something and then you get this barrage of people that feed into it and encourage,” she explained. "Somebody that's not at risk for suicide, that isn't already struggling, isn't going to see that somebody died and go, ‘Oh, that's my option.’ Somebody that's already struggling that sees somebody die, that's now out of pain, and the amount of attention, then yeah."

Lone Peak is working with the organization Hope4Utah to address the problem in the school. Friday, members of the group plan to sit down with community and church leaders to help educate them on how to better discuss suicide and depression with their residents.

“It’s so important for parents to talk to their kids,” McRae said. “What may not seem like a big problem to us could be a crisis for them. We need to communicate.”

For more information about suicide prevention, visit Hope4Utah's website.

If you are having suicidal thoughts or know someone who is struggling, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The hotline is staffed 24/7.

19 comments

  • jhewson

    I didn’t know this person, and won’t cast judgment on them or this specific situation.

    But the repressiveness, shame, guilt, pressure, cliquishness, self-righteousness and elitism instilled in the residents of my county and state by the predominant religion is to blame for Lone Peak, Alpine District, and Utah leading the nation in teenage suicide. People will wring their hands and talk about prevention, but until the elephant in the room is dealt with, we can expect this trend to continue.

    • ANOTHERBOB

      By the way, JHEWSON, Utah ranks in the top 10 for suicide within a region known as the “suicide belt” that includes states like Oregon and Nevada. Don’t you ever get tired carrying that chip around on your shoulders?

      • LonePeakAlumni

        The suicide belt overlaps the jello belt, by the way. It’s not harmful to discuss how religion and the pressures it puts on teens may be a contributing factor to depression and suicide.

        Brushing it off like you want to hurts. It needs to be talked about.

        As somebody who went to Lone Peak I can tell you with certainty that the pressures of being an active, orthodox LDS kid in a very homogenous atmosphere absolutely is the major contributing factor to everyone (I know several victims of suicide unfortunately) who has taken their own life.

        Please quit plugging your ears and playing the persecuted Mormon and listen to people who know more than you on the issue.

      • ANOTHERBOB

        LONEPEAKALUMNI – You should count your blessings that you’re happily adjusted, married, and have children you tuck into their beds every night. Any pressures you perceived while attending Lone Peak were self induced.

    • Debbie Hill

      In 2013, Utah ranked #15 in suicides per capita
      (#5 in 2012, 2014 numbers not out yet)
      So maybe Alaska (#1) and Montana (#2), both with roughly 4% of their population reporting as LDS have a story we could learn from? Rather than pointing fingers in the wrong direction?

  • Concerned parent

    Lone Peak is a great school, but for some reason a lot (not all) of the kids are raised thinking they’re better than others. I know many kids who have switched schools because of this. I know that there’s mean kids at every school, but for some reason it’s really bad at Lone Peak. Money is not everything! I’d much rather have children who are caring & kind.

    • LPgrad

      I think its all about who you chose to associate with. When I was a student there I met some of the most humble, kind, and positive people Ive ever met. Some of them were very well off, others not. Stereotyping people by wealth is part of the problem.

  • ANOTHERBOB

    While I can’t understand why transgender students in the Park City High School would feel the need for the 2 non-gender specific restrooms that were built for them I can understand that some LGBTQQ students might be more fragile that normal children. It is sad, and it is also normal to expect that those suffering from it might want to blame others for their what they suffer.

  • Nathan2B

    This is Very sad situation. I was a Peer Counselor back in high school, And I have a daughter about this same age group, and we noticed that she was drawing on herself, we found out that she was having problems with some of the girls at her school, and was drawing on herself instead of giving in to the Urge to cut herself. She still draws on herself, but she has gotten to the point that she has opened up to us about the issues. We have pointed out that yes the school is different as far as what all there is, but the ages don’t change and the same general issues plague kids today as there were 20 years ago, Kids will be mean and feelings get hurt, and that we have all been there and everyone needs help at some point in time. I feel sorry for the kids and the families, I wish them all the best. Parents please sit and talk with your children, they may not always open up to you unless you corner them and make them talk with you.

    • Debbie Hill

      EXCELLENT advice Nathan…. and if you haven’t been talking to them about their lives since they were 2, it’s not likely they’ll suddenly open up to you at 14. Be involved, and Stay involved. It’s a huge commitment, but they’re worth it!

      • Nathan2B

        I came in to her life when she was 9 almost 10. I became her Step dad around that time. I have had a very open relationship with her since that time, There are things she talks to me about that she doesn’t talk with mom about and Vice versa. I have pointed out to her that I was picked on a bullied up until High school. I was tall and goofy looking at least according to people back then, and her mom was picked on a little too, because she came from a lower income Family and didn’t have the nice clothes so we both understand what problems kids can have. My daughter also isn’t the typical Girly Girl, she is more of the tomboy so she gets picked on for not wearing make-up or skirts and she likes to wear more jeans and my old t-shirts :) I guess that means I have good choices in shirts according to her LOL :) But she gets picked on because of how she dresses and for being a little over weight. I hate how cruel kids can be. I wish I could protect her from that but that is part of growing up and helps you know how not to be to other people

  • Yvonne

    jhewson, I have been on both sides of the fence. I felt the same way you did when I felt I was being put under a microscope. I now see that responding by putting them under the microscope only makes me a hypocrite. Truth is when you don’t feel good about yourself, you automatically assume that others think this or that way of you, whether it’s true or not. It’s better to take people on an individual, rather than a collective basis. If I like you individually, I like you. I’m not going to judge someone based upon what religion, social background or any other group they belong to. Depression is often the result of a combination of things, genetics, family environment, traumatic events that occur in someone’s life, etc. This is one of the largest schools in the state so it makes sense that there will be a greater number of suicides. It is also one of the wealthiest schools in the state, so many families may have high expectations of success. Across the U.S. there is greater stress for high school students to get into college, hence the feeling like they MUST take AP classes in order to be accepted. Strong religious beliefs actually have the ability to prevent suicide.

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