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South Valley Journal

Riverton spotlights anxiety with Live in Real Life Part 2

Jan 28, 2019 11:54AM ● By Mariden Williams

Members of the Riverton High School Hope Squad (Riverton City Communications)

By Mariden Williams | [email protected] 

The second installment of a popular mental health conference will be the highlighted event of Riverton High School’s 2019 Hope Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness of teen suicide and depression.

“Last year, we were able to convene with a panel of teachers and administrators and parents that talked about some of the top issues that they see at school,” said Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs. “Really it all related to anxiety, to depression, and oftentimes leading to self harm and even suicide. And we were asked, will the city please do something? Help sponsor events that help draw and raise some awareness for this?” 

And thus, Live in Real Life was born. 

The first Live in Real Life conference, held on Sept. 17, 2018, was well-attended, with some 1,500 parents crammed into the Riverton High School auditorium to hear from keynote speakers, doctors, and emergency personnel about the effects of excessive screen time on teens. Every chair was filled, and the walkways were clogged with standing spectators. 

City officials hope Live in Real Life Part 2, which is focused on anxiety awareness, will be equally popular. It’s scheduled for 6 p.m. at Riverton High School on Jan. 28. Doors open at 5:30, and educational booths will be available after the event for attendees to see what resources are available for things like counseling, health insurance and mental health. Attending the event is free of charge, and open to everyone aged 10 and up.

“This event is important for our community as we seek to address the struggles with mental health and anxiety that many people face, including our youth,” said Staggs. “In my several meetings with school administrators, teachers and parents, these issues are constantly raised. And it is our hope that these city-sponsored events will help raise awareness and understanding of these issues.”

Dr. Matt Swenson, a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist, is the event’s featured speaker. Dr. Swenson is a physician with Intermountain Medical Group and medical director at Utah Valley Hospital’s outpatient psychiatry and counseling clinic. He was recently featured as a keynote speaker at the Rocky Mountain Suicide Prevention Conference.

In addition to keynote speakers, the event will feature a showing of “Angst”, an IndieFlix original documentary. The film includes interviews with kids, teens, educators, experts, parents and a special interview with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. 

“Our community has a lot of room for growth as we seek to understand anxiety and other mental health issues and their impact on people’s lives,” said Councilwoman Tricia Tingey. “We’d like to encourage everyone who has seen or been impacted by these issues to attend this special event.”

The city council, according to the mayor, is supportive of doing two or more Live in Real Life events a year from now on, with one at the beginning of each school year and at least one more toward the middle of the year.

“Since we’ve been doing and sponsoring Hope Week every January for the past several years, we felt it appropriate to do the second event in January,” said Staggs.

The other main event in Riverton High School’s Hope Week is the annual Hope Walk for suicide awareness, which this year will take place on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 9 in the morning. Participants walk from Riverton High School to the Riverton Spirit corner, at the intersection of 12600 South and Redwood Road, where they will be greeted with donuts and hot cocoa provided by city officials.