SALT LAKE CITY — It’s a topic not everyone is comfortable discussing. But for a group of teenagers with The Reach Program, talking about depression and suicide is important.
Noah Handley, 13, was one of nearly a dozen teenagers who attended The Reach Program’s weekly activity Friday night. The local nonprofit aims to help teens who face depression or suicidal thoughts through special skills classes and activities.
"Having places like these where they can go and talk about problems is pretty important,” Handley said.
Handley, who is transitioning, said these activities have helped him through difficult times.
“It's kind of just a fun, welcoming place,” he said. “It is very good to be able to talk and have people call you by the correct name."
His transition from female to male has not been easy, he said, and it often brings him to a dark place.
“For a time period it was hard and I resorted to self-harm,” Handley said.
Over the last couple of months, he has been attending the organization’s activities and feels things are turning around for him.
“It is so important to be surrounded by people who can understand what you are going through,” he said.
The organization’s founder, Angela Gilbert, said it is important for these teens to know they are not alone.
“I was just talking to a girl today and she said ‘before this class, I never knew that other people felt this way’,” she said.
Gilbert was heartbroken to learn about the recent spike in youth suicide rates in Utah but said it is just another reason to take action.
“It is a great time for us to step up and as parents, talk to our kids ask that question, ‘Are you feeling depressed or suicidal?’,” she said. “If the answer is yes, take it seriously and seek professional help. Our organization is here for them.”
Gilbert is launching a new initiative to have 1,000 people go through their free suicide prevention course within the next year. The Reach Program holds a teen skills class every week in Salt Lake County.
For more information on The Reach Program, visit their website.