OGDEN — Student athletes at Weber State University heard a message about suicide prevention this past week. The organizer of the event said it's a message everybody needs to hear, and it's one she takes to as many people and organizations as she can.
During her presentation at WSU, registered nurse Jill Rarick made a point of playing Bill Withers' 1972 hit song "Lean on Me." It's a fun song she used to present a serious message that she said touches everybody.
"You listen to the words, and it's perfect for someone that's in crisis or someone that's got a burden," she said.
Rarick is the founder of the Lean on Me Foundation, an organization created to provide hope for those struggling with thoughts of suicide and their families.
"Our goal of our foundation is to bring awareness of the risk factors of suicide and depression," Rarick said.
It is mission that is dear Rarick's heart.
"I've personally felt that darkness," she said. "I've been in that dark area, and thank goodness that I've had a great support system."
Rarick was suffering from a serious medical condition when she first wondered how she could help others that were struggling. Then there were several suicides in her hometown of Blanding, Utah.
Those who died included "close friends; co-workers; a doctor that I admired, that I had the opportunity to work with," Rarick said.
It was then that she decided she had to do something. As a psychiatric nurse, she used the resources she had available to her and put her first presentation together. Since then, Rarick has taken her message of awareness and hope to groups across the state.
"We have presented to junior high school students — we talk a lot about bullying at those presentations," she said. "We've gone to high schools. We've done community presentations.
Each presentation is tailored to the group hearing it, but the message never changes.
"A good healthy support system will help you get through anything — any trial or struggle," Rarick said.
Her message reinstated with the student athletes she spoke to at WSU.
"It's nice to have it put into words, about all the stresses that we deal with as athletes," said Josh Fuller, a WSU basketball player.
"I think this will help us figure out that there are people that can help you and that care what you're going through, whether it's your team or another team," said Brecken Holbrook, who plays soccer at WSU.
It was also a message school administrators hope to share again.
"Sometimes we bring in speakers to talk about certain topics, so this is certainly going to be in the rotation of those topics we cover," said Amy Crosby, senior woman administrator at WSU.
Rarick is currently trying to put together a presentation for members of the military and their families. For more information on her foundation and presentations, visit www.facebook.com/pages/Lean-On-Me-Foundation/230905360379441.
Contributing: Jordan Ormond