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Davis Journal

Live On focuses on suicide prevention and skills to save a life

May 15, 2023 10:27AM ● By Becky Ginos

DAVIS COUNTY—Utah historically ranks in the top 10 for suicide deaths. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Live On is a statewide campaign focusing on suicide prevention.

“There are protective factors we know reduce suicide,” said Allison Foust, Suicide Prevention Program Administrator for the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). “We need to educate our friends, family, coworkers, etc. to learn the skills to save a life. The warning signs and how to have difficult conversations.”

The Live On campaign is about awareness, she said. “We’re using billboards and social media to get the information out. A new resource is the 2022 Playbook, a free suicide prevention course on Instagram.”

There’s a series of 10 Instagram posts to be certified as a Live On ambassador, said Foust. “You can teach about the warning signs and how to ask if you’re worried where to refer someone who has thoughts of suicide. It’s basic education on how you can play a role in suicide prevention.”

Foust said the posts don’t take long to go through. “You can do all of the 10 in an hour. They’re bite size and easy. You can do it on your own time without having to sit through a course.”

It’s the first course of its kind in Utah, she said. “Using it on a social media platform is unique.”

During the 2019 legislative session, they passed a bill that if the state could get private partners statewide to raise $1 million they would match it, said Foust. “We got private partners like IHC, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and other very nontraditional partners that felt it was really important. Then in 2020 the state launched Live On.”

The question was how to reach the masses, she said. “We realized everyone is on their phones. It gave us the opportunity to provide people with information. We knew we could get it out to a lot of people at once.”

Foust teaches the course. “I walk through all of the information,” she said. “We have someone from the Office of the Medical Examiner, IHC, crisis prevention, all mental health professionals from the state of Utah.”

Through partnerships and shared workplaces, Live On collaborates with different organizations, Foust said. “We worked with Staker Parson on messaging in their culture that tends to have a higher risk. We’ve also worked with Larry H. Miller targeting schools and higher education.”

Most have reached out to them, she said. “It’s organic. People get involved in this message. We have a wide variety of partners.”

Suicide is complex, said Foust. “There’s not one reason why Utah is in the top 10. One good thing that came out of the pandemic is that everybody had a mental health experience like job loss, isolation, etc. and they were more ready to talk about it.”

It’s best to learn the warning signs such as a change in behavior or mood, she said. “Or if you recognize they are going through something difficult. The Playbook teaches the warning signs and if you’re brave enough to ask that question.”

There are several resources, said Foust. “You can call or text 988. There are trained crisis workers 24/7 right here in Utah. You can also call if you just have a question or whether you should be concerned. It has transitioned into a crisis line but can be for any mental health issue like anxiety or if you just don’t know what to do –  it’s a great resource.”

Foust said she called 988 because of a situation she was having with a client she was working with. “I asked them if they knew of anything else I should be doing. It’s also helpful for the helper.”

For those who have lost someone to suicide, has resources like grief support, she said. “The site is also helpful if you’re just looking to get involved with your work or faith, there are resources for you as well.”

It’s driven by the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition, said Foust. “The resources have been created by mental health professionals in Utah or nationally.”

There are so many resources it’s hard to know where to start, she said. “LiveOn has done a good job compiling everything in Utah in one place.”

To access the Playbook enroll for free by following @LiveOnUtah on Instagram. For other resources visit λ