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South Valley Journal

Here comes the sun: Riverton city offers messages of hope and help at special event

Mar 02, 2020 12:11PM ● By Stephanie Yrungaray

The crowd sang along with live performances of Beatles hits at Riverton’s Live in Real Life event. (Photo courtesy of Riverton City)

By Stephanie Yrungaray | [email protected]

Messages of hope and help were woven between popular Beatles songs at Riverton’s Live in Real Life event held at Riverton High School Jan. 27.

Songs such as “Here Comes the Sun,” “I want to Hold Your Hand” and “Help!” were performed by Sean’s Garage band with special guest singers from the Riverton Concert Choir and the HOPE squads from Oquirrh Hills Middle School, South Hills Middle School and Riverton High School. 

In between the enthusiastic performances, speakers such as school resource officer Michael Ashley and suicide prevention trainer Lisa Carter talked about mental health resources available to the community.

Oquirrh Hills Middle School ninth grader Autumn Popp was excited to be involved with the event and sing with the band. 

“Instead of saying ‘Help, I need somebody,’ we sang ‘hope,’” said Popp. “We want to make sure people know that we are here and that Oquirrh Hills has a HOPE squad.”

Members of HOPE squads at each school are trained to listen, help and respond to peers who are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide. 

Besides the program and performances, there were also booths set up outside of the auditorium with different support groups and community agencies, including the Salt Lake County Library, South Valley Services, Girls on the Run, Safe Utah App, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Family Therapy, Riverton Senior Center, Stretch Lab and Riverton City Youth Council. 

Trey Edwards, a volunteer for the American Foundation for Suicide prevention, said events such as Live in Real Life are important because they bring awareness and help erase stigmas. 

“The most important thing is helping people, especially students, know that they can get the resources they need,” said Edwards. “There is always one more resource available for you.” 

Riverton resident Emma Weatherhead has been a volunteer for Youth Suicide Prevention with Healthy Riverton for three years. She said as a firefighter and paramedic, she has seen the effect that a single suicide has on a community. 

“It is hard to watch how one single decision can affect so many people,” Weatherhead said. “I’m hoping events like this will help start that conversation to open it up so people are willing to talk about their mental health and get the appropriate help. Because if people don’t talk about it, we can’t help them fix it.” 

Healthy Riverton offers a QPR (Question, Persuade and Refer) Suicide Prevention Training the third Thursday every month 7-8:30 p.m. in the community room at UFA Fire Station #124, 12662 South 1300 West.