7th grade football player spreads mental health awareness after losing teammate to suicide
Sep 13, 2023, 4:51 PM | Updated: 4:57 pm
HIGHLAND, Utah — Suicide remains the leading cause of death for Utahns ages 10 to 17 years old. This devastating stat hit home in Monroe, Utah, last October when a young football player died by suicide. And on Monday, one of his teammates made it his mission to spread mental health awareness on and off the field.
At 12 years old, Tyler Ostler proudly wears number 51 for the 7th grade Lone Peak Knights football team.
“It was my best friend’s number,” Ostler said. “His name was Dexton Obray.”
His friend, who was just 14 years old, died by suicide last October.
Since Obray’s passing, Ostler’s family moved away from the team he grew to love in Sevier County to Highland. Though it’s his first year at a new school, he’s determined to never lose another teammate.
“We’ve been starting this friend group where if a kid is hanging out by himself, we tell him to come over here and hang out with us so they have a better day,” Ostler explained.
He said it’s as simple as making sure no one eats lunch alone.
“If you see a kid sitting at the table by himself, I’d suggest you go say ‘Hi’ to him or something,” he said.
Ostler says it’s all about building connections and relationships with others.
“Just going to check if they’re having a bad day or not because you don’t know what could happen,” he said.
As someone who lost friends to suicide, Ostler’s coach, Rhett Moorehouse, makes it a point to teach these same principles on the field.
“Out here on the football field, these kids tend to open up to coaches,” Moorehouse said. “But we talked about being a team and taking care of each other… If anybody’s having any issues, how do we help them? How do we support them?”
It’s a message Oster’s mom, Jessica Ostler, is grateful her son understands.
“Tyler’s biggest motto is you’re not alone,” Jessica said. “There’s always help out there.”
Tyler, his family, and coach hope they can make a difference for at least one person.
“Reach out to people on a constant basis. I mean, we’re friends, we’re family, we’re a community,” Moorehouse said.
Tyler is collecting used sneakers through GotSneakers and donating the proceeds to the Obray family, who hope to increase access to mental health resources in Sevier County. Those willing to donate old shoes can email Jessica at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 (833-372-3388)
- 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.
Counties in Utah provide services for mental health and substance use disorders. Centers are run by the thirteen Local Mental Health and Substance Use Authorities all across the state and offer therapy, substance use disorder treatment, support groups, mobile services, youth treatment, and more.
These resources and more information can be found here: https://www.uacnet.org/behavioralhealth.