Healthier Together: Suicide Prevention

Did you know that before anything else – car accidents, drowning, illness or disease – the leading cause of death here in the state for teens and young adults is actually suicide?

A family shares their story of loss and what they are doing to spread hope.

“It was devastating,” said Camilla Matthews Peterson, who lost her brother Ammon to suicide seven years ago. “We were almost in denial about our own mental health issues because there’s a stigma to talking about our own mental health issues and saying you need help, and that was kind of a wake-up call for us.”

Ammon was only 14 years old.

“We’re all in this together. There’s no reason to destroy each other. Let’s work together and form a community to uplift each other and create support, love and understanding,” Peterson said.

She started a business with her sisters Heather and Ashley, hoping to inspire change and spread hope, love and compassion – not just through their online clothing business, but with random acts of kindness and other projects. The name of the company: “Dear Sister; »

“Where an author could have ended his story, but he chose to continue,” Peterson said of the use of a semicolon in the name. “You are the author, and your life is your story, and you choose to continue.”

: My brother was two years younger than me, so we were very close growing up. We were like boyfriends, and even I didn’t see it coming,” Ashley Sandmire said, adding that she reviewed her brother’s behavior over and over again in the weeks leading up to his death. “Even though we were so close, I didn’t know the signs.”

Dr. Donna Milavetz, Executive Medical Director of Utah Regency Bluecross Blueshieldsays teen behavior can be up and down, but there are some signs parents need to watch out for.

“When a child or young adult says ‘I wish I was dead’ or ‘I won’t be a problem anymore,’ that impulsiveness is a really big red flag,” Milavetz said.

But she added that beyond expressing suicidal thoughts, loved ones should look for other signs such as withdrawal, sadness or a drop in schoolwork.

“If your kid is a straight student, and all of a sudden they come home with Cs and Ds and get grades, your kid doesn’t show up to class, those are all danger signs “, said Milavetz. .

The latest figures on this subject give food for thought. Milavetz says that for teens and young adults, suicide is the leading cause of death in Utah — higher than the national average. And according to the data, nearly 40% of all high school students reported feeling hopeless and 25% considered suicide at some point.

“Have these conversations. Go, ‘Hey, this is really concerning to me. Tell me more about it,'” Milavetz said.

She recommends getting the SafeUT app or contacting your healthcare provider for additional resources.

“Early intervention is key in this regard. Making sure your child shows up for life the next day is the goal,” she said.

The Matthews sisters say they will continue to speak out on the issue in an effort to help someone else’s family.

“Just helping people know that they’re not alone and that we have each other and it’s okay not to be well and it’s okay to talk about it and it’s okay. It’s good to reach out,” Sandmire said.

“We want people to see what we’re doing and it doesn’t have to be big, huge gestures. It can be little things here and there that inspire people to make a change, to spread the word. kindness, to do something nice for someone, because it could be a little thing that someone needs that could save their life,” Peterson said.

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