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Tales from Utah Valley: Continue suicide prevention during summer break

By Laura Giles - Special to the Daily Herald | May 18, 2024

Jeremy Hall

Laura Giles

It is almost summer break, a time many of us look forward to because of the opportunity to enjoy the great weather, the outdoor activities, a bit of relaxation time and getting a break from school. That’s the good news.

The bad news is there are people — both adults and kids — in the schools who are trained in suicide prevention. So, when school is out for several weeks, some of that work isn’t being done. Some people aren’t checking in.

However, there are things that we, as family members, neighbors, coaches, fellow church members and friends, can do to keep our kids safe and mentally healthy.


Feeling connected is important for both our mental and physical health. Children who feel lonely or isolated tend to have a harder time in school and are at greater risk of developing depression as adults. Social support and connections are protective factors against suicide.

We can still try to ensure that kids — and even adults — are connecting with others when school is not in session. Connections with family members, neighbors, sports team members, church groups, fellow employees and friends can all be valuable. These connections can ensure kids have someone to talk to, if needed. They can also help them feel as if they are accepted and appreciated. If children are not able to be involved in many activities, family members can set aside regular time to spend with them.


It’s OK to use devices, but kids should be taught to use them in healthy ways. Adults can be role models and unplug themselves for certain time periods each day. Putting down the devices during family meals can help spark fun discussions and strengthen those connections.

If kids are away from devices, they can have more time for experiences that benefit mental and emotional well-being, such as getting outdoors in the sunshine, exercising, reading books, playing, creating art, listening to music and talking with friends.

Talk about it

Talking is important. Many suicide prevention experts stress the importance of teaching our kids to reach out for help if they are feeling sad, stressed or hopeless. This can be difficult to do, so practicing with kids can help.

Not sure how to start a conversation about mental health? The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website, afsp.org, has many suggestions for how to talk  to others, including teens and tweens, about mental health and suicide.

Talking about mental health in positive ways, modeling behaviors that strengthen mental health and checking in with kids and other family members can prevent feelings of hopelessness. Parents can find opportunities to talk to their children alone, such as going on walks or bike rides together or working in the garden.

Get help

If you notice someone may be struggling, or if you are struggling yourself, get help right away. Talk to a mental health professional, friend, doctor, neighbor or anyone else that you trust. Help is available 24 hours a day by calling or texting 988.


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