People in Sevier County have something new popping up in their yards, but it’s not a weed or political campaign. White and blue signs across the county in front yards, businesses and schools dot neighborhoods with positive messages.
Never lose hope. You are worthy. Your life matters. You are loved. Never doubt your value. Don’t quit. You’ve got this. You are never alone. One day at a time. You are enough. Be the exception. You are stronger than you think. Your life matters.
The Encouragement Project for Sevier County has put up 60 signs in the last month. Each one has an encouraging message on the front and back.
“We had no idea it was going to explode like it did, so we have a lot of people waiting for signs at this point because we have a waiting list,” said Mary Conder, who started the project. She says 80 more signs are on the way soon for those on the waiting list.
She and a group of three other women talked about starting something positive after reading about a similar project online.
“And we all just decided it was something that we really needed as a community, to pull our community together,” Conder said.
This community has been no stranger to suicide in recent years. Not only is it the leading cause of death among teens in the state, but several recent suicides in Sevier County have hit hard for many families.
Amber Christensen says she just wanted to do something.
“It’s a very small act, I mean it doesn’t take a lot of our time,” Christensen said. “But I feel better, and it’s healing for me just to be able to hopefully make somebody feel better.”
Christensen says some of the messages also have personal meaning.
“One day at a time is how I live, so to me that one means a lot,” Christensen said.
Condor plans to have the signs switched out from time to time with new, fresh messages. She doesn't know how long the project will continue but hopes it’s still going years from now.
“Even if they’re small and it’s a small project, I think that it’s starting to remind people again, you know what. We need to reach out to our neighbors. We need to make sure that our neighbors are OK.”
According to Conder, people have reached out to her to say it does make a difference in their days. But the biggest thing she’s proud of is that those who have had loved ones die from suicide have reached out and asked for signs.
“That kind of validates that what we’re doing does mean something,” Conder said. “Because if those people who have gone through the worst pain ever, think it’s a worthwhile project, then we’re on the right track.”
The encouragement project for Sevier County has a Facebook page where they receive donations and requests to host signs. Valor Printing in Richfield prints the signs for a discounted price and members of the project deliver and place them.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, help is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-TALK. Utahns can also visit Hope4Utah and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center for additional resources. You can also download the SafeUT app for instant, confidential crisis services.