In 2017, suicide was the leading cause of death for Utahns ages 18-24. That same year Utah’s suicide rate was higher than the national average, according to Public Health Indicator Based Information System.
The discussion around suicide prevention is becoming more prominent in pop culture and here at SUU.
Two years ago, Logic, the three-time number one Billboard artist, released his single “1-800-273-8255” to promote suicide prevention. Logic’s song currently has over 385 million views on YouTube alone.
The song focuses on a high school student who considers ending his own life. He gets through this extremely difficult part of his life was by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, the song’s namesake.
The song is a message of awareness and hope. Logic wanted to make the point that even though a person may be struggling, there is someone ready to listen. This can be seen through the lyrics of the second verse, “You don’t gotta die, I want you to be alive.”
Logic isn’t the only musician trying to start an open conversation about suicide prevention. SUU student Desiree Fitzgerald is trying to change the stigma and advocate for suicide awareness through her music.
Fitzgerald, a pre-nursing major from Saratoga Springs, recently competed in the 2019 Miss SUU pageant. Her goal wasn’t to get the crown; instead, she wanted to share an important message about mental health and suicide prevention.
Music has always been a part of Fitzgerald’s life. At a young age, her dad helped her learn how to play the piano. By the age of eight, she started writing her own songs. When she was in seventh grade, she taught herself how to play the guitar.
Originally the music she wrote was “cliche love songs,” but now she likes to write music to help people.
“Recently I have been trying to write songs that can touch people that are struggling,” said Fitzgerald. “This is the first song [I have written] geared towards suicide prevention.”
Fitzgerald performed her original song “Breathe With Me” for the talent portion of the Miss SUU pageant.
The song was inspired by the mental health struggles her family and friends were facing.
“I know a lot of my friends have struggled with suicide and there’s a lot of times that I didn’t hear about their struggles till they were through them. The whole theme of the song is to breathe with me …Even if all I can do is be a presence so you aren’t alone then I will be that.”
Fitzgerald wanted to speak out about mental health because of the stigma attached to it.
“There is a stigma of when somebody is struggling that they should keep it quiet…But a lot of people struggle with mental illness. I am sure that all of us at one point will struggle with it, whether it be for a lifetime or just for moments. It is common and it is okay to reach out to people. It needs to be talked about more because people need to understand.”
On SUU’s campus there are resources to help change the way people think about mental health.
The Counseling and Psychological Service alongside the Health and Wellness Center are both engaged in trying to change the negative stigma attached to mental health.
“Some people think you can get over it by yourself. You can just choose to be happy. But it’s really not that easy or simple. People need to understand it’s okay to reach out. We need to talk about it.”
Fitzgerald got outside of her comfort zone by signing up for a beauty pageant.
She wanted to make a difference and help the students of SUU the best way she could: her music.
“Going into Miss SUU, I didn’t have the thought ‘I want to win.But I really wanted…[the] audience to know they can reach out and somebody will care and somebody will help them get through whatever they are going through. … I had some people come up to me after [the pageant] and say, ‘I really needed that,’ so I thought I did what I needed to do.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. They are available 24/7 to help with any level of self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
Story by: Cassidy Harmon
Photo Courtesy of Christopher Dimond