Alex Boyé performs at an event in Logan in 2021 to promote suicide prevention and awareness. (Emma Fuez)
Estimated reading time: 4-5 minutes
LOGAN — Why bring a friend to the Alex Boyé concert on Monday evening? It’s free, and it just might save a friend’s life.
This is the second year that Cache County is aiming for “Ignite the Light” with Utah artist Alex Boyé headlining. Cache County Executive David Zook said thousands turned out for last year’s event and the meaningful attendance made it worth it. He said people appreciate the opportunity to speak about their emotional burdens, including many first responders who constantly serve the community.
This year, the Cache County Fairgrounds, 450 S. 500 West, in Logan, will open at 5 p.m., giving attendees more time to visit booths that aim to provide mental health resources and other supports. . Zook said people don’t realize how many places offer counseling and intervention services.
“We know that when people are struggling with mental health issues or suicidal thoughts, they’re much more likely to have a good outcome if they can connect with resources,” he said. declared.
Margaret Gittens, who organized the event, said people could call larger organizations like Bear River Mental Health and be told they are full, but there are smaller private practices available and dozens of between them will hold stands to present their services to people. Gittens said she was surprised at the number of private practices available in the Valley.
First responders with police, fire and other emergency medical services are invited to attend a private group at the center of the event at the same time as booths operate outside. Last year, the gathering of first responders was held the night before.
Alex Boyé, who is open about his own mental health issues, sang a song from the group and spoke with them, putting his hand on their shoulders and, according to Gittens, asking them, individually, “Are you okay? Because you have a family that you have to go home.” Several first responders opened up, asked for help, and then told Zook how much they appreciated the framework that got the discussion started.
“These guys are warriors,” Boyé told KSL.com. He said these strong men and women might not want to show their emotions publicly because they might have been seen as weak. Now, however, being open is seen as a strength.
Boyé must go on stage at 7 p.m. There will be no opening acts this year, reserving two hours for booth interactions and letting Boyé take the stage earlier than last year’s 10 p.m. start time. Boyé intends to do more of the same, singing with his band and interacting with the crowd, delivering a message of hope. He said he plays positive music to make people feel good and he doesn’t care what time he’s on – as long as he’s on stage he feels good.
I think a lot of times people with mental illness don’t recognize that they need help, and it’s up to those around them to steer them in that direction.
Bart Esplin lost his son Tyler to suicide in 2018. He said it was important for people to know they are not alone.
Tyler Esplin was 27 and had struggled with depression for years. Her father said the hardest thing when someone is going through pre-suicide is knowing who to turn to. In the four years since his son’s death, there has been more awareness, Bart Esplin said, and it’s growing even more.
“I think often people with mental illness don’t recognize that they need help, and it’s up to those around them to steer them in that direction,” Bart Esplin said.
Zook said suicide is the leading cause of death among Utah teens, and suicide among middle-aged men is becoming more prevalent. Bart Esplin said asking a friend or family member about possible suicidal thoughts wouldn’t put ideas in his head; if they emerge, they were already there.
Things were difficult for Boyé when he was younger. He said he used to hide his mental health issues, but his therapist told him he needed to talk about it – that healing comes from release. The British-American artist shares his own struggles and says he wants to show we’re all in this together. We all cry inside, and opening up gives others permission to open up.
“All my songs are a celebration of life; I want to talk about good things,” Boyé said. He said there were young people who didn’t want to come to the event last year, but after experiencing it, they didn’t want to leave.
The event is made possible by donations from the community.
Gittens called the event a “celebration of life” and wants people to know there are more people like you – but one person may have been touched by suicide. She encourages anyone to reach out and ask for help.
And, maybe a free Alex Boyé concert can help start that conversation.
Suicide Prevention Resources
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call 988 to connect to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
- Huntsman Mental Health Institute Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
- SafeUT Crisis Line: 833-372-3388
- 988 Suicide and lifeline in case of crisis at 988
- Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ Teens: 1-866-488-7386