Family Looking Up

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Helping Our Kids and Community to Keep Hope Alive – Guest Dr. Greg Hudnall. Episode 44

This week’s show is all about saving lives!  Dr. Greg Hudnall shared some incredible insights about how we, as parents, can help our kids, their friends, and community members to keep hope alive and prevent suicides.  Dr. Hudnall is a former high school principal, student service director and associate superintendent with the Provo City School District. He has worked in suicide prevention for the past twenty years and has personally been involved in over forty-five suicides as a first responder or consultant.  He is considered one of Utah’s leading experts in community and school-based suicide prevention, intervention and postvention.  

Listen in to hear the specific, and easy things you can do to begin making a difference today for those you love.  Also, you can hear our thoughts on traveling with kids, including a story of Beth’s daughter having her face caressed by many members of a tour group….every girl’s dream.  Aaaaaand…find out what Dr. Hudnall’s 5 year old screamed for all to hear as he carried him out of church one day. This is a must listen!

Suicide is a heavy topic, one often avoided.  Unfortunately, the lack of knowing exactly how to prevent suicides led the Provo City Utah School District to average one to two suicides per year during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  Dr. Hudnall began his journey toward suicide prevention in that district as a principal. Provo was not unique in its high suicide rates.  Students across the nation were struggling with this devastating problem. Many still are.

Through a collaborative effort with many different experts, Dr. Hudnall created the Hope4Utah Foundation and Hope Squads in over 300 schools in Utah and several states nationwide.  According to the Hope4Utah website, a Hope Squad is defined as “… the eyes and ears of your school. They are comprised of students who are trained to watch for at-risk students–provide friendship, identify warning signs, and seek help from adults. HOPE4UTAH works with school advisors to train students who have been identified by their classmates as trustworthy peers to serve as HOPE Squad members. Through evidence-based training modules, HOPE Squad members are empowered to seek help and save a life.”  The decrease in teen suicides across Utah has been dramatic since the implementation of Hope Squads.

Suicide prevention is a community issue.  No one person can solve the problem. Students, teachers, principals, and therapists all have a significant role to play.  None can be alone in this effort. Parents are an integral part of this equation. Dr. Hudnall recently released a book called “Hope Squad:  The Successful Suicide Prevention Program For Youth.” This book outlines what specific things parents, educators, and community members can do to immediately begin helping to prevent suicides.  Below are some of the topics (called LIFE SAVERS) we discussed in this episode that are found within the book.

How to begin a conversation with someone about suicide.

The warning signs of suicide:

  1. Talking about or making plans for suicide.
  2. Expressing hopelessness about the future.
  3. Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress.
  4. Showing worrisome behavioral clues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of warning signs above.

Common misconceptions about suicide:

  1. People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.
  2. Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.
  3. If a person is determined to kill themself nothing is going to stop them.
  4. People who commit suicide are unwilling to get help.

Protective factors and resilience:

The following protective factors are personal characteristics that are critical to helping your child, and those characteristics that also help children build resilience.

  1. Effective behavioral care.
  2. Connectedness
    1. Family dinner
    2. Create opportunities to make and keep friends.
  3. Self esteem and a sense of purpose or meaning in life.
  4. Cultural, religious or personal beliefs that discourage suicide.

Crisis lines are available to help in any situation:

Also, visit for a complete list of crisis lines and resources.

Dr. Hudnall suggests that parents become certified in the QPR Program.  QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer — the 3 simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide.  For those wanting to be certified in the QPR Program (suicide prevention training) visit

The Family Looking Up Four Questions:

Favorite parenting book:  “Hide or Seek” by Dr. James Dobson 

Favorite fiction book:  Mila 18 by Leon Uris

Advice Dr. Hudnall wishes he had been given before he had kids:  Listen more. Speak less. Love more. Judge less.

Dad Fail:  You must listen to hear this great story!



To learn more about Dr. Greg Hudnall:

Search “Hope Squad” on YouTube.

To purchase Dr. Hudnalls new book, click here:

Other facts about our guest:  Dr. Hudnall has been an adjunct Professor for BYU for the past 15 years and was named as adjunct Professor of the year.
Dr. Hudnall is a board member of the “Faith Communities Task Force National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention”.
For over fifteen years Dr. Hudnall has been the team leader of a statewide suicide crisis team that has responded to over twenty youth suicides including a fourth grader who took his life on a school campus and a suicide contagion where five students from one school took their lives
He is the founder of HOPE4UTAH, a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to suicide prevention, intervention and postvention in Utah. The school-based program, “HOPE Squads” has been responsible for over 1,000 students referred for help.
Dr. Hudnall was invited to testify before the United States Surgeon General on suicide in Utah and has trained over 40,000 Utah residents in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention.

Dr. Hudnall was invited by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to present in Washington D.C. on the Circles4HOPE community mental health model at the “Dialogue on Behavior Health and Community Resilience in LDS Communities”.

HOPE4UTAH was chosen by the Center for Disease Control to receive assistance in developing long-term research and evaluation.

In July 2015 Dr. Hudnall was invited by Dr. David Jones from the White House to participate in a national webinar on African Americans and suicide in the U.S.

We’d like to thank Dr. Hudnall for not only the time he gave to us during this interview, but also for his years of service fighting suicide.



3 Comment

  1. This has been SO helpful. Thank you ! I am a YW Pres here in Tasmania ,Australia. I will try and implement some of the ideas I have felt from your discussion. I reckon you will bless many through your work. Certainly I hope to help our family get better and closer through all this – inspired stuff for which I am very grateful.

    1. Thank you so much for replying and for listening! Working with youth is a huge responsibility and I am so grateful that you found some insight in this episode to help you! Doctor Hudnall was so terrific and had so many wonderful insights born of experience. Let us know if there is anything we can do to further address issues that pertain to your life. We love that you are part of our Mom Squad!

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