Firearm safety - a piece to suicide prevention puzzle

Hope Squads are one way that suicide is being prevented in Utah and other states. In Utah last year, 1,100 kids were referred for help through the Hope Squads and 30 kids were hospitalized because they were suicidal. These kids were helped because of Hope Squad members looking out for others in their schools.

Carry hope throughout your life. Help others carry hope. These are the purposes for the Day of Hope, which is coming up on Feb. 12. Beginning with youth in Hope Squads, but spreading to as many people as possible, the Day of Hope should be just that — a day to boost hope in the world.

Hope Squads, a suicide prevention program in schools, has chosen this day to focus on hope. Students will take part in hope-promoting activities, including doing random acts of kindness for their classmates, writing kind notes to their peers and wearing yellow for suicide prevention awareness. Hope Squad members in 24 states and Canada, in more than 700 schools, are encouraged to participate.

Additionally, on this day, everyone is encouraged to celebrate and spread hope throughout their families and communities. Some ways to do this are to share hopeful quotes on social media, tell others about things that you do that bring you hope and share stories of hope. Using the hashtag #dayofhope2020 and tagging @hopesquads along with your posts will help your messages be shared with others.

However, you don’t have to be a social media user to celebrate the Day of Hope. These quotes, stories and experiences can be shared in good old-fashioned ways by face-to-face conversations, phone calls and even through the oft-forgotten art of handwritten letters.

At http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org, people have shared their own stories of hope. Many of them are people who have previously attempted suicide, but have gone on to find ways to feel hopeful. Some have experienced extreme hardships in their lives including struggles with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and loss of family members by suicide.

I asked some friends what they do to have hope, especially when life gets sad and hard. These are some responses. “Sometimes, I have to rely on the hope that others have that life will get better. When I trust that, I find it to be true.” Another said, “Life has hills and valleys. When I’m in a valley, I remember that I was there before and then climbed a hill.”

Other ways to find or hang on to hope that were shared with me include making gratitude lists, reaching out for help or for a listening ear, holding on to spiritual beliefs, staying active, showing kindness and giving service to others, practicing mindfulness, seeking out personal connections and being kind to ourselves.

Gov. Gary Herbert will sign a proclamation declaring Feb. 12, 2020, as a Day of Hope in Utah. Hopefully, the hope that we carry and share will continue beyond that day.

Laura Giles is a longtime correspondent for the Daily Herald and a community member living in Pleasant Grove. She can be contacted at LauraCGiles@gmail.com.

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