SALT LAKE CITY — In normal times, mental health problems that lead to suicide can be overlooked. And with kids heading back to school after going through more than a year in a pandemic, it can be of even greater concern.
In Utah, suicide is the No. 1 cause of death for young people age 10-24 and the No. 2 cause for people age 25-44.
Here, a mother shares the story of her daughter’s suicide attempt and what she is doing to prevent others from needlessly losing their loved ones to suicide.
On her daughter’s suicide, ‘thankfully, I have a second chance’
Brandy Vega, founder of Good Deed Revolution, nearly lost her 14-year-old daughter to suicide in February 2021. Her plea to stop this crisis in youth went viral, and since that time many have come to her for help.
She joined KSL NewsRadio’s Debbie Dujanovic and Dave Noriega to discuss her experience.
Vega said that one night back in February, before going to bed, she had a conversation with her daughter about registering for ninth grade.
A couple of hours later around midnight, two police officers were banging on her front door.
“I said, ‘What happened? What did she do?’ They said, ‘You need to go check on her right now,'” Vega said, adding one of her daughter’s friends had called police.
“I went up and I found her in the bathroom, and she had tried to take her life. And if her friends hadn’t called 911, I would have found my daughter dead in the morning,” she said.
When Vega and her daughter reached Primary Children’s hospital, they had no available beds.
“They said ‘We’ve never seen anything like this. We have so many kids here, the youngest being eight who attempted to take their lives,'” she said.
Vega said she posted the family’s experience on social media and it went viral. Since then “hundreds” of parents have reached out to share the same anguish and to ask, “can you help me?”
“Thankfully, I have a second chance, but so many parents out there don’t. And not just parents because it’s not just a kid thing.”
Bad day or suicidal?
Vega said she asked her daughter when she awoke whether she was glad to be alive.
“She said, ‘Yeah, I didn’t want to die at the end, but it was too late.’ And I just feel bad because I think for so many kids, they don’t wake up.”
Vega said she has taught a suicide-prevention class and now knows the signs to look for in a potentially suicidal person.
“I had been suicidal as a teenager as well, but when your kid is going through puberty and junior high, it all looks the same.”
Vega said she believes that social media played a “huge” role in her daughter’s mental health decline.
“It just all added up, and she couldn’t take the pressure,” she said. “They don’t know how to cope.”
Talking can save a life
Vega issued a challenge for listeners who suspect a loved one may be contemplating suicide.
“Ask them point-blank: ‘Hey, I’m worried about you’ or ‘I’m thinking about you’ or ‘I heard about this. Are you feeling suicidal?’ Don’t beat around the bush; ask them that.”
To reach out to more people, Vega said she’s producing a 90-minute comedy show called “Dying to Laugh: A Funny Look at Depression and Suicide” and working on a distribution deal.
If you or somebody you know is contemplating suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24-hour support at 1-800-273-8255.
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