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Prominent Utah family shares their struggles with depression

By Heather Simonsen | Posted - Feb. 24, 2017 at 8:07 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Les Olson started his company in 1956. The third generation now runs the business: a heritage of success. But there's another legacy.

"I've watched it go from my generation, to our children, to our grandchildren," said Jim Olson, Les Olson's son. His father couldn't stop grieving after his mother passed away. "It even took him to his knees," he said.

Now some of his children and grandchildren struggle with depression. "There's no magic bullet for it," he said. "You feel helpless."

Experts at LDS Hospital said the No.1 killer of kids in Utah last year was suicide. If a family member withdraws and want to be alone, take note, said Adam Hornung, LDS Hospital behavior health director. "Increasingly hard to do normal, daily functions: getting out of bed, showering, feeling happy about much of anything," he said.

Talking to them about what they're feeling is key. "You don't have to have a perfect conversation," Hornung said. "If it's clumsy, it's OK. But breaching the topic is very important. You don't have to have something teed up. Just talk."

Depression is treatable, so having hope is important. Olson said they're managing it well and enjoying time together, especially with the grandchildren. "They all know where the candy cupboard is."

He said if you're struggling, you're not alone. "Just about every family you meet has someone."

Don't be afraid to start the conversation. Experts said a combination of therapy and medication works when treating depression. For more tips on how to start the conversation visit

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
  • Salt Lake County/UNI Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
  • Wasatch Mental Health Crisis Line: 801-373-7393
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386
Online resources


Heather Simonsen


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