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Opinion: Why we all need to break the silence on suicide

(KSL-TV)



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SALT LAKE CITY — KSL has made a strong commitment to help break the silence on suicide and Thursday at 10 p.m. we want to spread hope and expand the community conversation with your help.

We all play a role in suicide prevention. Even if you do not know anyone directly who has died by suicide, you most likely do know someone impacted by it.

While I was working on this project, I received a panicked phone call from someone close to me. A family member was missing and she feared the person might harm herself. A few hours later her body was found. My heart breaks for my friend's family as it does for all families who have experienced this profound loss and complicated grief.

Nearly everyday in our newsroom, we hear reports of suicide and suicide attempts. We typically do not report on individual cases because that can lead to a contagion, but we also know we need to report on the issue at large and do so responsibly.

Opinion: Why we all need to break the silence on suicide

In September, I attended a two-and-a-half day Poynter seminar in Washington, D.C., on how to best cover and report on mental health. The experts stressed over and over the need for journalists to lead the conversation on suicide and point people toward help.

Suicide is a serious and complex public health issue, not a private family matter. There are almost always multiple causes and research shows that mental disorders and/or substance abuse have been found in 90 percent of people who have died by suicide, but these psychiatric illnesses are treatable.

We need to address it like other public health issues and talk about it more at home, in schools, churches and even in the workplace.

Tonight we will show you how to have those crucial conversations.

Our segments include:

Suicide prevention resources
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, KSL encourages you to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Crisis Hotlines

  • Utah County Crisis Line: 801-226-4433
  • Wasatch Mental Health Crisis Line: 801-373- 7393
  • National Crisis Line: 1-800-784-2433
  • Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386

Online resources

  • Businessman Brent Brown will share his personal reasons for starting a suicide prevention program for his employees.
  • You will also learn about the high rate of suicide among our firefighters and police officers and learn what is being done to help them.
  • A school hit hard by suicide will explain how they teamed up with parents to curb the problem.
  • Family and friends who have lost someone to suicide will share messages of hope and you'll see lockers of love created by students following the suicide death of a classmate.

I have been asked multiple times if it is tough to cover suicide. It is definitely not easy, but I have discovered so many reasons to be hopeful.

The state legislature, health departments, school districts, county and city leaders, police and fire departments are all stepping up to play a larger role in suicide prevention — from crisis teams to Hope Squads, to parent seminars and a new state suicide prevention coalition. I am also constantly inspired by volunteers and survivors of suicide loss who work tirelessly to prevent these deaths and help grieving families heal.

Even if we can help just one family tonight, our efforts will be worth it.

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Candice Madsen

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