Utah family continues son’s community cleanup legacy while educating on suicide
Jul 27, 2023, 7:47 AM | Updated: 7:49 am
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah family is continuing their son’s cleanup legacy and using it as an opportunity to address the stigma surrounding suicide.
Last November, 25-year-old Ryland Hosenfeld died by suicide. Before his death, he made it his mission to clean up our community.
“He had already picked up 641 pounds (of trash) between 2019 and 2022 and so we’ve just been able to add to that, about 950 pounds,” said Kathy Kirby, Ryland’s mother. “It’s a way I can feel close to Ryland because that is what he enjoyed doing.”
For the family it is more than just filling bags with litter, it is about being about to start a conversation with people curious about the group’s efforts.
“Often people will say, ‘Thanks for picking up trash,’ and just gives you an opportunity to talk about my son’s story,” Kirby said. “It just gives you an opportunity to talk about (suicide) because it is something that has been such a stigma for so long and that’s obviously not helping.”
Kirby said she can often connect with people who have been impacted by suicide and is hopeful these interactions will continue with each park and trail they clean.
“It’s what we are doing, and talking about suicide can save one person, then I just feel like we have succeeded, and I know Ryland’s proud of us.”
Ryland’s girlfriend Jaden Schmidt said participating in these cleanups helps her feel close to him. She is grateful that so many other people, his friends and even strangers, have pitched in to help.
“I know that’s what he wanted,” she said. “It’s just kind of figuring out how we can do that and then also have other people in on the mission as well.”
The family is organizing a public trash cleanup and suicide awareness event on Saturday, Sept. 16. Details will be on his Instagram page, @slctrashcollective, where he logged most of his cleanup efforts.
Suicide prevention resources
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting warning signs, call, text, or chat the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 which is answered 24/7/365 by crisis counselors at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. All calls to legacy crisis hotlines, including the old National Suicide Prevention hotline, 1-800-273-8255, will also connect to a crisis care worker at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute as well.
- SafeUT: Parents, students, and educators can connect with a licensed crisis counselor through chat by downloading the SafeUT app or by calling 833-3SAFEUT (833-372-33888)
- SafeUT Frontline: First responders, including firefighters, law enforcement, EMS, and healthcare professionals can chat with a licensed crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUT Frontline app.
- SafeUTNG: Members of the National Guard can chat with a licensed crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUTNG app.
- Utah Warm Line: For non-crisis situations, when you need a listening ear as you heal and recover from a personal struggle, call 1-833 SPEAKUT 8:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m., 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
- The Huntsman Mental Health Institute offers a wide variety of programs and services including suicide prevention and crisis services, hospital treatment, therapy & medication management, substance Use & addiction recovery, child & teen programs, and maternal mental health services including birth trauma, pregnancy loss, infertility, and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
- LiveOnUtah.org is a statewide effort to prevent suicide by promoting education, providing resources, and changing Utah’s culture around suicide and mental health. They offer resources for faith-based groups, LGBTQ+, youth, employers, firearm suicide prevention, and crisis and treatment options.
Other community-based resources
- NAMI Utah provides education, support and advocacy for individuals and families impacted by mental illness.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers prevention programs, public education, support for loss survivors, and fundraising for research.
- Encircle Utah: LGBTQ+ family and youth resource center.
- Utah Pride Center empowers Utah’s diverse LGBTQ+ community.