12 May 2010

Personal Touch

Welcome to the Neighborhood News

Today is our last Personal Touch scheduled on a Wednesday. Starting next week, we’re moving to Mondays. We’ll also be featuring tougher, more intriguing issues, mingled with the usual ones.

Rebecca Cressman interviewed Greg Hudnall for today’s Personal Touch. Greg Hudnall is Director of Student Services for the Provo City School District. His professional passion is saving young lives by giving adolescents considering suicide the option of hope and healing from depression and mental illness. Greg helped found the community volunteer-based Hope Task Force for Suicide Prevention and now serves on the State of Utah Suicide Prevention Task Force. He is also the executive director for the State Crisis Team for schools, and is currently working on his doctorate dissertation, which is creating a K-12 suicide prevention manual for public schools.

As you may have guessed, we’re talking about teen suicide in today’s newsletter.

Our first contributor is Kimberly Job. Kimberly blogs in “Scribbled Scraps”. She contributed this piece entitled “A Cry for Help”, and mentions her son coming home from school and talking about a friend that had killed himself. She says: “As I sat down with him, the story he told me filled me with sorrow and made me reflect on my own life, and what I could do as a mother to avoid something so tragic happening in my family.” We watch it on the news, or read it on the papers, about teens taking their own lives. And we ponder what could have gone so wrong, that they just didn’t run to somebody for help.

Are we as a society so far gone, so jaded and uncaring that we don’t see the suffering of others? Especially our teenagers, our future. I'm afraid we're building a society that teaches our children to only care about themselves. I've heard of children who've gone to school and have not been addressed in any way, by their peers or adults. They feel ostracized, alone, without friends. Would they not try to build walls then, just to not get hurt? I can see that there are few alternatives, and some of them include harm, to either oneself, or others.

The next entry is from Elder M. Russell  Ballard, in his talk “Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not.” He’d gone to the funeral of someone who’d committed suicide, and visited with the family. He said: “A comment by the youngest son captured the despair they all felt: “There is no hope for dad now, is there,” he said. It was more a statement than a question. “All the good things he did throughout his life don’t matter anymore. Now that he’s taken his life, he will be in the telestial kingdom throughout eternity.” Then he wept.

"The feelings expressed then by those family members are commonly felt by Latter-day Saints trying to cope with the suicide of a loved one or friend. The anguish and uncertainty they experience are extremely painful and difficult”. What should be comforting to all of us is to know that we won’t be the ones judging, and their fate is left to Jesus Christ to decide.

Our last entry is from John Dehlin, from “Mormon Stories Podcast”. John talks about suicide and depression in his article "Teen Suicide in Utah," and gives a lot of numbers and backs up his findings with good research. The numbers alone are overwhelming. We need to learn more about what makes someone go so low that their own lives are not important enough to save.

We would love to hear from you. Please write your thoughts in the comments section of the newsletter.

To view a copy of the Neighborhood News for Wednesday, 12 May’s, please click here.


  1. This topic is something that I feel very strongly about. I was at a Young Women activity a few years ago when the YW President was aghast that a young woman in her daughter's ward had attempted suicide earlier that week.
    She had worked with YW for a long time, and I was surprised at her naivete.

    A few days earlier, through inspiration, I had found my own son, almost blacked out, trying to hang himself. Through great mercy, I was inspired to go check on him.

    For some reason we think that we can't be touched by such things, when statistically, it probably effects a number of young people in every ward. I know personally of at least two in mine.

    We need to be aware. Every day I bless those men who are/were mentors to my son and helped him find his way back from a very dark place.

  2. Thanks for including such an important topic as suicide in the newsletter today. It helps others to hear from those who've been in the same place they are, and to know there is another option besides taking one's life.


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