Numerous Speakers Highlight Suicide Prevention Conference


    By Igho Ayoro

    Brady Earl, 19, a six-year suicide survivor, is one of many speakers who spoke at the eighth annual suicide prevention conference Friday.

    The conference was organized by the Provo School District in collaboration with several Utah health organizations.

    Many local community leaders attended the conference, which took place at the BYU conference center.

    Brady Earl grew up having to deal with issues like loneliness, avoiding social situations, intense self-consciousness in social settings, and physical symptoms such as blushing, sweating, trembling, fast heartbeat, nausea and unreasonable fear of embarrassment.

    He regarded his symptoms as typical and considered them raging hormones. Little did he know he was dealing with a much bigger problem.

    He became worse as the teasing increased.

    After watching a TV commercial, Earl said he discovered his symptoms were not normal. At this time, Earl had begun thinking about what it would be like to leave this life.

    He decided to speak with his school counselor who called his parents.

    He was later diagnosed with depression and social anxiety and was immediately placed on anti-depressants, but they only made his situation worse.

    On Oct. 11, 2001, Earl didn”t feel well enough to go to school, so his mother and siblings made him promise not to do anything. He didn”t understand why they would have him make such promise, but he did anyway.

    At about 10 a.m., it seemed as if everything fell in place to carry out his plan — his death. He went to the living room and cried because he didn”t want to die.

    While crying, he heard an audible voice, which convinced him it had to be done. At that point, his mother called and asked him what he was doing, but he lied. He told her he had made lunch and was eating.

    After the conversation with his mother he wrote a suicide note and left an audiocassette for his family.

    He began taking Tylenol P.M. By the time he realized what he was doing, he had emptied an entire bottle. It was too late to stop so he called his neighbor, but there was no response.

    He then lay down in the living room, turned on the radio, kissed his dog and fell asleep on the couch waiting for death.

    The next thing he remembered was his sister screaming in the living room. At this time, he was already blue. When he woke up, he was in the hospital, surrounded by his family. He had been rescued.

    Like Earl, lots of teenagers and adult attempt suicide every day; they plan to take their life without realizing they have other options.

    “When you have depression, the only thing you can think of is yourself,” Earl said. “You also think about how life for your friends and family is better of without you.”

    Earl said depression is not the end of life. He hopes his story will bring strength to everyone who struggles with depression.

    According to a 2005 study on adult and teen suicide, every 17 minutes one life is lost to suicide, which adds up to more than 30,000 lives each year. The study also shows that more people die each year of suicide than cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, influenza and chronic long disease combined.

    Gregory Hudnall is director of student services in the Provo School District and executive director for Utah Hope Task Force, an organization that educate individuals and communities on suicide prevention.

    Hudnall said Utah is among the states with high depression rate, according to a recent study.

    “The goal today is to give all these individuals hands-on tools so they will be able to help young people deal with depression and prevent suicide,” Hudnall said.

    The keynote speaker at the conference was Michael McLean, songwriter, performer, playwright and film producer who, through his songs, helps people with depression and attempted suicide get back on their feet.

    Other speakers included the Burton family, who lost their 18-year-old son, Jordan, to suicide in 2001. Social workers as well as medical professionals also spoke at the conference.

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