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Tackling suicide prevention in Utah with Jon Gossett

Jon and Tracy Gossett join the Project Recovery podcast to talk about suicide prevention.

In two weeks, two people in Tooele, Utah had taken their own lives — that’s when Jon and Tracy Gossett realized they needed to do something to make a change.

On the latest episode of ‘Project Recovery,’ Jon and Tracy Gossett detail their efforts in providing assistance and raising awareness for suicide prevention.

Pushed past the breaking point

The Tooele community was devastated after these two young people took their own lives, Jon said.

“There was something about having two [suicides] back-to-back,” Jon said, explaining that suicide affects people of all ages.

“In Utah, the youngest we’ve lost to suicide is age five; the oldest, in the years that we’ve been doing [suicide prevention awareness], ninety-five,” he continued.

How Hope Squads are helping make a change

Jon also detailed some of the things that schools are offering regarding different programs to help students and the youth with any issues, including Hope Squads.

The program consists of students who have been trained to help spot any at-risk students in what focuses on peer-to-peer relations to curb youth suicide.

“Having a connection can reduce [the] risk for suicide, feeling emotionally connected with other people, feeling an important part of a relationship,” Dr. Matt Woolley said on the podcast.

Jon said he’s trying to instill the fundamentals of empathy in kids to watch for signs because more often than not, they’re there.

“People tend to feel invisible like they’re not noticed, and that’s when you need to worry,” Jon explained. “If we’re all watching and we’re all being vigilant, hopefully, we’re going to save a life.”

The birth of ‘Life’s Worth Living’

Jon recalls the moment he couldn’t stand by idly anymore after hearing of the suicides that hit Tooele so he and Tracy decided to create the Life’s Worth Living foundation.

He explains that while he was driven to make a change, he quickly realized there was a lot of work to be done.

“The one thing we noticed in 2014, right off the bat, that Tooele did not have, [was] a support group for lost survivors and for those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide.” he described.

Jon and Tracy also realized that there weren’t any monuments set up in Tooele to help raise awareness surrounding the enormous number of suicides for military veterans, so they got to work.

“We now, in our veterans park, have an 18-foot bronze monument that talks about veterans suicide,’” he said.

Getting Some Help

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US and in 2017, 47,173 Americans died by suicide. That's the topic of tomorrow's episode and we're diving into the realistic issues we're dealing with in Utah and specifically, how addiction and mental health disorders play their role in suicide.

Posted by Project Recovery With Casey Scott on Monday, July 22, 2019

Jon also spoke about the foundation’s work with the Safe UT app and how it was instrumental in curbing Tooele’s suicide rate.

“We’ve got more kids signing up in our schools, more kids reporting, and last year, we saw a decrease by 14% in youth suicides due to that app,” Jon said.

For more information on Life’s Worth Living, you can visit the foundations Facebook page by clicking here.

To hear more from Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, you can listen below or subscribe to the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast on Apple Podcasts or the KSL Newsradio app.

SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting warning signs, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Additional 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 Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741-741
  • University Of Utah Crisis Interventional Crisis Line: 801-587-300

Online resources

In an emergency

  • Call the police
  • Go to the emergency room
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