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Roop: Talking to kids, saving lives

Kevin Roop
Valley Voices

Being involved with suicide prevention has saved my life. My name is Kevin Roop, and I am a board member and treasurer for SpeakUp ReachOut. Our organization is committed to preventing suicides in Eagle County through training, awareness, and hope.

Over the years I have mentored and coached youth, and I still enjoy working with kids through these platforms. There is nothing more rewarding than helping a child reach their goals, whether athletically, or with life skill development.

A few years ago when I was seeking a youth volunteer opportunity, the unexpected happened. I learned that there was an immediate need for individuals to be trained to teach the Signs of Suicide class in our local schools. Because of the stereotypes often associated with suicide and mental health issues, I was told SURO was having trouble finding volunteers comfortable with presenting this subject matter. Thankfully these taboos have subsided over the past few years, but we still have work to do in breaking down these stigmas.

I have to admit that I hesitated a bit when asked to jump onboard as an Signs of Suicide trainer, but I was aware of some the recent loss of life to suicide in our community. It took a bit of a push and convincing that I would be a good fit, and I eventually decided that there was a real need for this prevention work in our community, and signed up for the SOS training.

After my training and audits were completed, I began to teach the classes in our local schools. These classes educate our youth on how to identify the different signals that may lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts, and how to inform a trusted adult of these signs. Students are also given the opportunity at the end of the course to inform us of concerns they might have about peers, family members, friends, or themselves via a short survey. I definitely believe that we have saved lives and provided people in our community the help they need.

SURO saved my life. Un-intently finding SURO helped me realize that I did not need to suffer alone in a corner with mental health issues and thoughts of ending my life. I realized it was OK to get help, rather than suppressing my feelings and probably eventually ending it all. 

In a nutshell, my story has a happy ending. I have had depression for years, which has been compounded by many head injuries, but through a combination of talking to the right mental health professional, medication, nutrition, and healthy activities like meditation, yoga, skiing and biking, life is good. I no longer struggle with thoughts of suicide and fight them with the right tools.

I will continue to teach the Signs of Suicide classes in our schools and encourage others to get involved. It is extremely fulfilling and the need is huge in our community right now with the stresses that have been presented by Covid-19.

Lastly, it is a personal mission of mine to help other men be aware that they are not alone in their day-to-day life struggles, and this is why I have briefly shared my mental health journey in this piece. 

SURO is spearheading a men’s mental health support group in the valley. We are taking the approach of sharing our stories of support through different activities. We recently enjoyed a screening of “Ford Versus Ferrari,” at the Riverwalk Theater followed by a men’s support group meeting that was well attended. We will be having more guy-centric events like this in the near future, so if you are a guy that is struggling or just needs a brother to lend an ear, I encourage you to attend one of our upcoming monthly gatherings.  Thanks for listening.

Kevin Roop lives in Edwards and is the treasurer for SpeakUp ReachOut. Please attend an event, training, and consider donating today at speakupreachout.org.


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