Spotlight: Utah Pride Center

In September 2020 Utah Pride Center’s Suicide Prevention and Services Department launched our Suicide Prevention Boxes.

Tell us about your center’s project, program or initiative that you would like to Spotlight.

Which of these 4 areas your does the project, program or initiative fall under?

  • Programmatic innovation and community connection
  • Capacity building and financial success
  • Organizational culture and team building
  • Community empowerment, diversity, equity, and inclusion

Why was the project/initiative/program implemented? What was the need or gap and how did it help bridge that need/gap?

In September 2020 Utah Pride Center’s Suicide Prevention and Services Department launched our Suicide Prevention Boxes. These boxes were created in two sizes and can be mailed to any address in Utah free of charge to those who submit a request. Each box contains over 200 individual items such as bookmarks, information cards, stickers, buttons, and posters all printed with suicide prevention hotline numbers and resources. The boxes are designed to be displayed in the waiting rooms or common areas of businesses and organizations, allowing guests to take the resources without any barriers like having to ask for help. These boxes provided a solution to the question: How do we get suicide prevention resources into the hands of as many people as possible across the state, especially in a year where group events have been canceled? We needed a solution that could be implemented quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively. Our Suicide Prevention Boxes met all these criteria and came with the bonus of engaging our community members in suicide prevention efforts. Each person who requests a box for their organization is spreading lifesaving materials in their local community. This solution has also been helpful at getting resources to remote and rural areas of the state where access to resources is very limited. More information can be found at www.utahpridecenter.org/prevention

Who does this project/initiative/program benefit?

This program is designed to benefit all Utahns but especially those in our LGBTQ+ community. We included material for hotlines and programs that are designed for and ran by LGBTQ+ organizations in addition to the general state and national resource materials. These boxes not only benefit guest that frequent these locations but also the employees who are often overlooked when it comes to suicide prevention efforts.

How and when was this project/initiative/program initiated?

This project was planned over the summer and launched in September 2020 during National Suicide Prevention Month. This is a key month to bring awareness to suicide prevention efforts and many people are looking for new resources during this time. It was also important to us that we have these boxes out in circulation prior to the holiday season when many people face added loneliness, stress, and thoughts of suicide.

What key components made this project/initiative/program a success?

Key components included getting all the design work for the boxes and materials completed quickly so items could go to print and be shipped to UPC to be built. We are also fortunate to have grant funding for LGBTQ+ suicide prevention efforts in Utah that made this project possible.

What challenges/roadblocks did you experience during the implementation and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge we have faced has been getting the word out about these Suicide Prevention Boxes. In a year of Covid-19 limitations, almost all our marketing has been digital, but we are starting to see word of mouth begin to carry the message.

How has this impacted your center’s operations and local community?

This project has helped our operations team think in more creative and innovative ways. Our local community members are excited to receive these boxes and to have a tangible way to feel they are making a difference to help prevent suicide in their neighborhoods. These boxes are also a great conversation starter about the topic of suicide and the importance of seeking help. We hope these boxes help to break the stigma surrounding mental health challenges and suicide.

What are the next steps?

Next steps include continuing to find ways to make people aware of these boxes and the impact they can have on the LGBTQ+ community in Utah. We will also continue to update the items contained in the boxes and work on collaborating with other suicide prevention organizations to offer as many resources as possible.

How could other centers learn from this?

I hope this project inspires others to think in new ways about how to address problems. I think many people have removed physical mail from the equation because of the advancements in technology but sometimes it comes down to the basics of asking what all the possible options are to get information in front of people. I think it’s also incredibly powerful when you can engage your own community to help you do the work. Don’t be apprehensive about creating projects where you give community members a role because so many of them want to help but just don’t know how. You might be surprised at how many people this inspires to become leaders in your cause.

Katie Perkins (she/her)
Utah Pride Center, Suicide Prevention and Services Director

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