LOCAL NEWS

Colleagues Remember Physician’s Life, Urge Others To Seek Help For Mental Health

Feb 5, 2021, 11:13 PM | Updated: 11:22 pm

RIVERTON, Utah – Health care workers and friends gathered at Riverton Hospital Friday to remember Dr. Cesar Briganti, who they say died by suicide after a yearslong struggle with depression that was magnified during the pandemic.

Briganti’s smile greeted countless patients over the years, and it continues to bring a smile to the faces of friends and colleagues even after his death.

“That was Cesar. He was a light,” said Heidi Vawdry, who worked with Briganti for seven years and now works as a nurse practitioner.

“He was the smartest guy in the room, but he’d never tell you that,” Vawdrey said.

On Friday night she joined family, friends and coworkers for a candlelight vigil at the hospital where he started his career and dedicated years of his life to caring for others.

Speaking of those who worked with him, Vawdrey said, “Every single one of them spoke volumes of how he was a mentor. How he was a hero. How they never felt more listened to or heard or more valued as a person.”

“I would describe Cesar as a gentle giant,” said Dr. Adam Balls, a longtime friend and colleague. “His ability to take care of patients and complex patients was probably the best I’ve ever seen from colleagues in medicine.”

Cesar was originally from Spain. He studied at BYU, went out of state for medical school and then returned to do his residency at the University of Utah. He then helped open Riverton Hospital as its first hospitalist.

“Caring deeply about what you do and taking care of COVID patients as Cesar did and having that kind of beat you up is part of the challenge we’ve dealt with in the pandemic,” Balls said. “That really took its toll on Cesar. He devoted his whole soul and all of his energy to taking care of those patients. He stepped in when other physicians weren’t available. He filled extra shifts.”

As loved ones gathered to remember his impressive life and the care he selflessly gave to others, Briganti’s ex-wife and close friends also acknowledged his death and that he took his own life.

“One of the things she spoke about very strongly in the funeral was her great desire for us to protect each other, to lift each other up and to prevent this from happening again. And the way to do that is to talk about that,” Vawdry said. “He was a lighthouse to many and it’s just crushing for all of us that he couldn’t see his way through this storm.”

Vawdrey has dedicated much of her professional life to encouraging health care workers and her patients to seek the mental health care they need. Balls has also been an advocate for helping his colleagues get the help they need.

“I believe we’re beginning to peel back the layers to recognize that health care workers do suffer. They do have repetitive trauma,” he said. “We do need to seek mental health counseling and professional counseling.”

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
  • 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

Local News

(Zoë Petersen, Deseret News)...

Hanna Seariac, Deseret News

Washington County attorney says no evidence of a candidate acting inappropriately in signature gathering

Washington County Attorney Eric Clarke also said there was no evidence of a candidate or the company acting inappropriately. He said he was looking into the matter to do his due diligence and build public trust.

41 minutes ago

Traffic was backed up on Interstate 15 near milepost 285 Saturday evening following a felony stop o...

Mark Jones

Kidnapping suspect arrested near Point of the Mountain

The Utah Highway Patrol says a kidnapping suspect has been arrested Saturday evening near the Point of the Mountain. 

2 hours ago

With wildfires starting to pop up around the state, Stage 1 fire restrictions are now in place in s...

Alex Cabrero

Stage 1 fire restrictions now in place for southern Utah

With wildfires starting to show up around the state, Stage 1 fire restrictions are now in place in southern Utah as announced Friday by the Bureau of Land Management. 

2 hours ago

Highway 128 covered in mud after a severe storm swept through Grand County on Friday. (Grand County...

Kyle Remund, KSL NewsRadio

Cleanup begins after severe storm in eastern Utah

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement earlier Saturday detailing both the damage caused by the storm and the efforts of first responders because of it.

4 hours ago

FILE: Two crop dusting airplanes collided near an airport in southern Idaho on Thursday, June 20, 2...

Associated Press

2 crop dusting airplanes collided in southern Idaho, killing 1 pilot and severely injuring the other

Two crop dusting airplanes collided near an airport in southern Idaho on Thursday and crashed to the ground, killing one of the pilots and leaving the other with life-threatening injuries, officials said.

4 hours ago

A small town in France dedicated a memorial to a crew of a B-17 Bomber killed during World War II. ...

Alex Cabrero

Memorial dedication in France for Utah man killed during WWII

On Saturday, a small town in France dedicated a memorial to a crew of a B-17 Bomber killed during World War II. The plane was shut down 80 years ago to the day near the town. One of the soldiers honored was Utah resident 2nd Lt. John "Jack" Lundberg.

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Colleagues Remember Physician’s Life, Urge Others To Seek Help For Mental Health