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Mental health experts to be on hand for Romeo and Juliet

LONDON - OCTOBER 30: Lorna Want (L) who plays the part of Juliet and Andrew Bevis who plays the part of Romeo act out a scene during a photocall for Romeo and Juliet: The Musical October 30, 2002 in London, England. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — The story of Romeo and Juliet is one of the greatest fictional tragedies of all time, but mental health and suicide prevention experts are trying to keep the story from sparking real-life tragedies here in Utah.

Concerns that the Utah Opera’s upcoming production of the Shakespearean tragedy set to music could glorify suicide prompted mental health professionals to consider how they might reach people who attend those performances.

Carling Mars with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, also known as NAMI, says her NAMI Utah team will be at each performance, teaching people about resources people can reach out to if they’re experiencing suicidal thoughts.

“‘It’s the only way they can be together,’ but realistically, it wasn’t their only option,” Mars says.

Pamela Fowler with the Utah Opera hopes the resources on site will open the door to discussion about mental health.

“Could that have been prevented?” she asks. “What are the accidents? What are the misunderstandings?”

Recent studies show roughly a quarter of Utah’s teens have considered suicide.

Anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts or depression is urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. There are additional Utah resources available here.


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