It’s more fitting than ever that our annual “Hidden” issue is delivered when a sinister, hidden threat has gripped our country, leaving our leaders and the media scared and irrational. In our ensuing panic it is now estimated by the New York Times that as many as 40% of our nation’s small businesses could close this year. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the real threat that we need to fear, is fear itself. Fear has fomented not only forced business closures but more recently greater political division, hatred and riots; more unrest than this county has seen in decades. Certainly, fear will kill more people and cause greater economic turmoil than Coronavirus.To illustrate: for the thousands of news stories about COVID —what do you believe has killed more people in Utah —the virus or suicide and drug overdoses? We have sadly lost 300 people to COVID. We will lose at least four times (1,300) that many to suicide and drug overdoses (and that is only based on 2019 statistics). There has been a surge nationwide of suicides and drug overdoses.
This side-effect of isolation and depression caused by fear isn’t getting many headlines.
Why isn’t this widely reported? Because it’s the story behind the story. The fear of a hidden virus attracts ongoing attention; fear keeps people glued to their TVs and afraid to leave their homes: fear sells more advertising. But hyper-levels of fear, mass isolation and depression produce suicide, drug usage and increases in domestic violence and homicide. The CDC has stated that we will certainly see far more “deaths of despair” this year than COVID deaths.
It turns out we need each other. We need to be together, much more than we need to remain isolated and apart. We need sunshine, fresh air, nature, friendship and love. Being together in more remote areas is the focus of our Hidden issue.
Utah is a massive place. In twelve years of writing Utah Stories, I can still say I’ve only seen a small fraction of this incredible state. Every year if I simply venture down a new road, to a new town, a new spot on the map, I’m surprised by the hidden gems I find: both in people and places. There are millions of acres of forests, deserts, rivers, farms, small towns and ghost towns. They are all full of history, lore and beauty. The diversity of landscape and towns make Utah extremely special. Now is the time to get out!