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Suicide prevention tops area mental health issues

Cory Markisich speaks with the Carbon County Community during New Road's grand opening last December. Markisich has been instrumental in bringing together community resources for this March's suicide prevention forum in Helper.

Sun Advocate reporter

In the months that followed Thanksgiving and Christmas 2012, suicide prevention was brought to the forefront of mental health treatment in the Castle County. Over the past 60 days area treatment professionals, advocacy groups and local organizers have come together at the behest of Helper City's mayor and police chief.

On Wednesday, the group finalized plans for a March 5 community workshop at the Helper Auditorium. The 6:30 p.m. forum is open to the community and is aimed at providing a wealth of prevention education.

"For a community this size, the amount of suicide is abnormal to say the least," said New Roads Director of Outpatient Services Cory Markisich. "For such a small community to have these tragedies happen so often is appalling."

According to Markisich, he was directed to the issue's severity by local mental health counselor Karl Kraync, who brought the issue up as 2012 came to a close.

"Karl came to me right after Christmas," explained Markisich. "We had a long discussion about the amount of depression and suicide in this area. I wanted to help out immediately and started setting some things up."

The set-up culminated on Wednesday morning as multiple local agencies including Helper City, Castleview Hospital, New Roads Treatment Centers, USU Eastern, NAMI Castle Country and Carbon County Economic Development came together to finalize a forum. The open house event will take place in the Helper Auditorium and include a presentation by Greg Hundall of the Provo School District and Hope4Utah.

Hope4Utah and its website at is a grass roots organization committed to stopping suicide. The website, which has been running since 1999 contains a wealth of information and services available in Utah. Hundall has developed a curriculum for battling suicide and will share his knowledge on March 5.

In addition to Hundall's presentation, the forum will include

According to several officials close to the issue, the Castle County has experienced an average of one suicide per week since Thanksgiving. The exact suicide total can be difficult to pinpoint, making the potential for epidemic very real. For example, an overdose which occurs without a note is often classified as an accidental death, even though the deceased's actual intentions are impossible to know.

Markisich reported that identifying the services available and getting that knowledge out to the community is the best way he can help curb what is becoming an epidemic.

"There are so many factors that contribute to depression and suicide, from stress, depression and substance abuse to anxiety an other factors, people need to know that there is help and they don't need to end their lives," he said. "We have to stop the idea that suicide is the only way out."

For Kraync, a Licensed Professional Counselor who brought the matter to Markisich and also coordinated with Helper City Mayor Dean Armstrong and city Police Chief Trent Anderson, the matter hits close to home.

"There is nothing more difficult than losing a client. Substance abuse can be tough, so can depression but there is a solution to these issues that allows a person to continue their life," he said.

As Kraync sees a great many individuals, prevention, understanding and education concerning suicide are vital.

The folks at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Castle Country also have intimate knowledge concerning the difficulty of dealing with a variety of mental health issues. Acting local NAMI President Sheri Davies helped to organize the Helper forum and is hopeful concerning the workshop.

"This is important because the community needs to know how to help themselves and their loved ones in a crisis situation," she said. "They need to know where they can ask for help. The community also needs to know that everyone has moments of crisis and everyone needs help sometimes. It's okay to speak up and say you are hurting, it's okay to need help."

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