Hope Squads hold training for mental health advocacy, suicide prevention efforts in Utah schools

Karah Brackin, KSLTV.com
February 1, 2024

Hope Squad, a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program, hosted a training on Thursday for students to help reduce youth suicide.

What is in a name? It is more than a string of letters from the alphabet.

When someone hears their name, there is that moment of recognition. Addressing someone by name is a sign that person is seen.

Dr. Greg Hudnall, executive director of Hope4Utah and founder of Hope Squad, knows the importance of people knowing others’ names.

“We know the number one reason young people take their lives is they feel all alone. They feel like they’re invisible… in fact, the new age 10 replaces the old age 16 because of what your people are being given through social media and what they’re being exposed to,” Hudnall said.

Over the last year since KSL caught up with Hudnall, he has been traveling the nation sharing Hope Squad’s mission while also coming back to home base in Utah.

On Thursday, he helped welcome in 17 high schools’ Hope Squads from across the area.

“I really believe it’s retraining young people on how to be friends,” Hudnall said.

Now in its 19th year, Hudnall said thanks to Hope Squad members, over 10,000 students have been referred to for help while over 2,500 have been hospitalized just because someone was looking out for them.

Knowing a name and being a friend is something Alison Layton, a Hope Squad National Council Member, said speaks volumes.

“You’re able to then connect with them. They know you know them, and they know you,” she said.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting warning signs, call, text, or chat the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 which is answered 24/7/365 by crisis counselors at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. All calls to legacy crisis hotlines, including the old National Suicide Prevention hotline, 1-800-273-8255, will also connect to a crisis care worker at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute as well.