USU Athletics Teams Up with Intermountain Health for a Suicide Prevention Workshop Featuring the Defensive Line


USU Athletics Teams Up with Intermountain Health for a Suicide Prevention Workshop Featuring the Defensive Line

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Utah State, in collaboration with Intermountain Health and The Defensive Line, took a significant step in promoting suicide prevention within the world of athletics. This initiative was highlighted by a workshop and panel discussion held on a Monday evening, aimed at delivering a powerful message about the importance of suicide prevention within the athletics department.

The Defensive Line, an organization founded by Solomon Thomas, a defensive lineman for the New York Jets, played a central role in this event. Solomon, along with his parents, Chris and Martha, embarked on this mission after the tragic loss of his sister, Ella, to suicide in 2018. Their commitment to spreading the message of suicide prevention, especially within the context of young people of color, is driven by the desire to transform how society discusses and engages with mental health.

Solomon Thomas and his parents were joined by Blake Anderson, the head football coach at Utah State. Coach Anderson himself has a deeply personal connection to the cause, having tragically lost his son, Cason, to suicide in 2021. Their voices united in an hour-long panel discussion, held at the Eccles Conference Center, to raise awareness and advocate for mental health and suicide prevention.

This vital message is part of a broader mental health series known as “The Strongest Play Is Asking For Help.” It underscores the critical importance of addressing mental health concerns and seeking help when needed.

The workshop and panel also featured the active participation of Utah State student-athletes Stephen Kotsanlee from the football team and Djamilliah Paepke-Chile from women’s track & field. Alongside them, behavioral health experts from Intermountain Health lent their expertise to this crucial conversation, ensuring a well-rounded and informed discussion.

This collaborative effort not only sheds light on the significance of mental health and suicide prevention within the realm of athletics but also emphasizes the importance of open communication and support. By sharing their stories and experiences, individuals like Solomon Thomas, Chris and Martha Thomas, and Coach Blake Anderson are breaking down barriers, reducing stigma, and encouraging those in need to seek help.

As this initiative continues to gain momentum, it’s a reminder that we can all play a part in creating a supportive and compassionate community where mental health is a priority. For more updates on Utah State Athletics, fans can follow the Aggies on Twitter (@usuathletics) or on Facebook by searching for Utah State Athletics.

The event was a significant step towards creating a culture of understanding, empathy, and support within the athletics department and, by extension, the wider community.

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