‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Musical Helps Local Teens Further Suicide Prevention Message

Mar 13, 2020, 7:31 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Tony-Award winning musical “Dear Evan Hansen” finally made its way to a Salt Lake City stage and a local Hope Squad is using it to spark a conversation to help teens through thoughts of depression and suicide.

“Dear Evan Hansen” is known for not only its powerful music but for its profound message. It portrays a high school teenager who struggles with a social anxiety disorder and desperately years for real friends. His therapist recommends that he starts writing encouraging letters to himself daily as part of his therapy.

After his classmate dies by suicide, Hansen fabricates a relationship with the deceased student in an effort to connect with his family. Hansen finally finds himself trapped in his spiraling lies.

Hope Squad students from the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts attended the show this weekend.

“Lights came up at intermission and I looked up and down the row and everyone was crying,” said high school senior Madelyn Salazar.

Hope Squad students at the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts attended Dear Evan Hansen and are using the message to help fellow peers through thoughts of depression and suicide.

Salazar said the show was very relatable since she is also preparing to leave her home and mom for the first time after graduating this year, just like Evan Hansen. “There were a lot of the familial relationships that I saw myself in that I was very affected by,” she said.

The next day the students met to discuss what they learned and how they can implement their findings.

“We do need to be empathetic and we do need to sympathize,’ one student suggested.

As Hope Squad members, they are trained to identify suicide warning signs in their peers on campus. Hope Squad president Lucas Cass said there is a continuing need, especially with a growing presence of social media for teenagers.

“I noticed how prevalent this story is in our society right now,” Cass said.

He said he knows what it’s like to not always have friends, which is why he makes a daily effort to reach out to others.

“I’ll even go up to someone random on the bus and say, ‘Can I sit next to you?’ and start a conversation,” he said.

For Cass, it’s always worth it.

“Seeing smiles after I finish talking to someone,” he said, is just one of many reasons he puts himself out there to help others feel included.

Willow Amendola, school counselor at the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts, said these students are passionate about their decision to participate in the Hope Squad.

“They’re here because they want to be,” she said. “They’ve been impacted by a suicide within their lives or because they’ve had their personal own experience with suicide ideation,” she explained.

After seeing the production, Amendola believes her students are better prepared to make a difference on their campus for students who might be struggling with thoughts of depression or suicide.

“To be able to have some take-aways from this was exactly what we were looking for,” she said.

High school junior and musical theater student Miller Loftus said they left the show with one resounding message: “You are not alone and you shouldn’t be alone,” he said. This is the theme he said they will continue to spread throughout their campus.


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
  • Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386
  • University Of Utah Crisis Interventional Crisis Line: 801-587-300

Online Resources

In An Emergency

  • Call the police
  • Go to the emergency room
KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Suicide Prevention

Ayanna Likens

Coming together on International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

While the loss of a loved one is always difficult, losing someone to suicide can add another level of pain to your grief. Saturday is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day — a chance for families to come together for healing and support.
19 days ago
Karah Brackin

Huntsman Mental Health partners with The Ad Council in multi-million dollar initiative

The Huntsman Mental Health Institute is teaming up with The Ad Council in an effort to reshape the conversations around mental health and help millions of Americans when they need it most.
27 days ago
(KSL TV)...
Karah Brackin

How an emoji can help people struggling with their mental health

Now, maybe more than ever, communities have focused on mental health and the importance of taking care of yourself. 
1 month ago
(Mark Wetzel/KSL TV)...
Alex Cabrero

Widow of fallen Utah officer using experience to help others heal

Prioritizing our mental health no longer carries the negative stigma it used to, but it all starts with getting help. A Utah County woman who lost her husband in the line of duty eight years ago knows about as well as anyone how important this is.
2 months ago
Mental health experts at the National Mental Health summit in Salt Lake County. (KSL TV)...
Ayanna Likens

How the nation’s mental health leaders came together to stop the stigma

The National Mental Health summit brings together leaders from across the country to align on the same goal — ending the stigma surrounding mental health.
2 months ago
Erin Cox

First mental health summit brings leaders from across US to Beehive State

For the first time, multiple organizations from across the country, who are leading the research for mental health, joined Utah leaders at a mental health summit. It’s the first event of its kind and will last until the end of Tuesday.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Musical Helps Local Teens Further Suicide Prevention Message