Jul 5, 2022 - News

A Utah therapist brings suicide prevention to his front yard

Signs in a garden state "Don't give up" and "You matter."
A therapist who lives in the Liberty Wells neighborhood posted affirming signs to honor his fiancée, who died from suicide. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

A Salt Lake City therapist is spreading a suicide prevention message on an intimate but eye-catching scale: 18-inch yard signs for his neighbors to see.

What's happening: Signs that say "Don’t give up" and "You matter" have appeared in the Liberty Wells neighborhood, courtesy of Sean Patrick McPeak, a therapist who lives there.

  • McPeak placed the signs in his Park Street yard to honor his fiancée, who died from suicide in 2019.
  • "She was the kindest person I ever met in my life," McPeak said.
  • Another neighbor recently asked McPeak for another set of signs, which now are on display in a more visible yard on 1700 South.

Why it matters: Utah consistently ranks among the 10 states with the highest suicide rates.

The yard signs could seem like a too-easy answer to a complex problem — but displayed as part of a person's home, they seem to convey sincerity, McPeak said.

  • "So many people stop by and say, 'I can't tell you how many times I've needed that sign," McPeak said.

The intrigue: One neighbor took offense because they thought the "You matter" message was a rebuke of "Black Lives Matter," similar to "All Lives Matter."

  • After McPeak explained his loss on NextDoor, the unhappy neighbor apologized and reconciled with McPeak.
  • McPeak said the neighbor's reaction was understandable. "It shows the anxiety and tension out in the world right now," he said.

Zoom out: The yard signs come from a nonprofit in Oregon, whose founder began making them after learning about the high suicide rates in her community.

The bottom line: "Everyone suffers, but we don't have to do it alone," McPeak said.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

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