Suicide is a major public health problem in Utah. According to www.health.utah.gov, an average of 627 Utahns die from suicide, and more than 45,000 Utahns attempt suicide each year.
Thankfully, there are institutions and organizations that help many people in our community who are struggling with depression find a ray of light and hope at the end of the tunnel.
Encircle is a nonprofit organization based in Provo and downtown Salt Lake City. Its main goal is to reach out to the LGBTQ youth struggling with acceptance and rejection to help prevent further tragedies in our community.
“I’d like to say that Encircle is providing a space for kids to be themselves…and making Utah a safer place,” said Tyler Domggard, Encircle’s Program Manager.
Since it opened its doors in 2017, Encircle has provided help to hundreds of youth and young adults who are dealing with suicidal thoughts.
Domgaard, a returned missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was once in a very dark place dealing with suicidal thoughts because of the isolation and expectations people had for him.
“That was very, very terrifying for me… that whole road, you know…what is expected of you. You know, you get home and what is expected of you is to find a girlfriend, get married, and that just wasn’t possible for me. So, that put me in a very deep, dark depression for about the first year when I got home from my mission. I was just really thinking about ending my own life multiple times a day,” said Domgaard.
Men tend to struggle more with suicide attempts. Approximately three out of every four suicide deaths in Utah are men.
“There’s this irrational place where you think, ‘Nobody loves me; nobody cares about me.’ And it’s not until after you get through with it that you look back and you go, ‘Wow! I would have hurt a lot of people if I would have taken my own life,'” said Domgaard.
For Domgaard, the light at the end of the tunnel came through having a community where he felt love and acceptance helped him overcome his afflictions. Now a survivor, he’s doing anything he can to help and give back to those who helped him. He is the current Program Manager at Encircle, helping youth who are in great need of support and guidance.
“I’ve had all these moments where I’m driving home at the end of the day and I’m watching the sunset and I’m thinking, ‘Man, I would never experience this day if I would have taken my life back in 2016,” said Domgaard.
Suicide does not discriminate against age, race, gender or religion. If you know someone who is struggling with suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.