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Singer's Suicide Reflects Trends In Utah

The suicide of country music singer Mindy McCready this week has rippled across the entertainment landscape, and affected fans nationwide. In Utah, the factors that led to the singer's death are experienced by teenagers and adults every day, experts say.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - The apparent suicide of country music singer Mindy McCready this week has rippled across the entertainment landscape, and affected fans nationwide. In Utah, the factors that led to the singer's death are experienced by teenagers and adults every day, experts say.

McCready died on Feb. 17 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at her home in Arkansas. Authorities said the 37-year-old singer shot herself on the front porch -- the exact same location her boyfriend took his own life just a month before.

Experts and those close to McCready have said she struggled with substance abuse and depression. She was arrested once, in 2004, for attempting to pass a forged prescription to obtain narcotic pain medication. She also endured a public legal battle with her mother, over custody of her son. Her legal troubles and relationship difficulties were just a couple of factors that may have led to her death, experts surmise.

Although McCready has no connection to Utah, her struggles are similar to those experienced here every day. Experts say mental health and substance abuse are two issues that people are not always open to discussing. And sometimes that has tragic consequences.

"Addictions are a huge issue in Utah. We have some of the highest rates in the country," said therapist Michael Desjardins of the Journey Healing Centers. "Prescription drug abuse has been a huge problem here in Utah."

Desjardins noted that, currently, methamphetamine abuse is the number one reason for admission into Utah rehabilitation centers. However, he also said that heroin, marijuana and alcohol are significant problems across the state.

There are many signs that could indicate a drug addiction, Desjardins said. Change in behavior or mood, quickly changing from happy to sad (or vice cersa), impulsive behavior, acting out of character, isolation, and struggling professionally or academically are some of the indications that a person may be battling a substance abuse problem.

Desjardins said that the single most important step a substance abuser can take toward recovery, is simply asking for help. Often times, experts say, people with an addiction are hesitant to reach out for help -- either because they are ashamed of their behavior, or because they aren't sure who to turn to.

Once an abuser does get help, Desjardins says it is important to recognize that recovery is a lifelong process. It can take the brain up to a year to stabilize after quitting drugs, he said. And it is critically important for those in recovery to have a support system.

"There are some great programs in Utah, with the Utah Recovery Assistance Program," Desjardins said. "We really need to look at more workplace programs to help people, instead of losing great, intelligent, talented people to addiction."

MORE:
- Journey Healing Centers
- Utah Recovery Assistance Program
- List of addiction treatment centers in Utah
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