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Utahns “Walk to Remember” Those Lost to Drugs and Mental Illness

Andrea Smardon
Mindy Vincent at the Utah Capitol (March 6, 2015)

Every year at the Utah Capitol, there is a rally for recovery from drug addiction and mental illness. But this year, advocates did something new - a walk to remember those who have died from these afflictions.

Hundreds of Utahns gather at the south steps of the Capitol on Friday and stream down the plaza. They are here to remember those they have lost. They’re here because one woman did not want her sister to be forgotten. Mindy Vincent is a therapist at an addiction recovery center, and the inspiration behind this walk.

“It is so unacceptable to me that my sister is gone,” she said in an interview before the walk. “Even though it gets easier to live with, it will never be OK that I don’t have my sister.”

Vincent’s sister died last year from a lethal mix of prescription drugs. As a therapist, Vincent is all too familiar with the problem. “I want people to know that prescription drugs, they’re dangerous… and people don’t understand what they’re getting into when they start doing it. The next think you know, somebody’s daughter is dead, somebody’s son is dead, somebody’s sister is gone. We are seeing people dying at such an alarming number, that is so unacceptable to me, and people need to know we need to do something about it.”

Vincent says the walk to remember is a way for her sister’s voice to be heard. “I want change,” she says. “I want people to be able to get treatment. I want family members to know that it’s OK to say something and to take action when you think that you’re loved one has a problem, because if you don’t you might lose them.”

According to the state department of health, 49 Utahns die as a result of a drug poisoning every month.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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