Buzz Busby remembers crying the day he read it. A newspaper headline announcing that the suicide rate in Eagle County had dropped by 30 percent, and just below the headline was a photo of a familiar sign.

It read “Don’t give up.”

Buzz, a FirstBank teller in Avon, has spent over a year placing similar signs all around the county as messages of hope for people struggling with depression. Eagle County — like many rural mountain communities — has one of the highest suicide rates in the U.S. Research points to a variety of reasons why this may be the case, but one theory is an emphasis on self-reliance that often stigmatizes seeking or giving help. 

“When I first started placing signs I was trying to do it anonymously, it was really under the cover of darkness so that I wouldn’t get caught,” Buzz explained.

But word spread and it wasn’t long before he was found out.

“People started paying attention and I started getting many emails from people experiencing depression saying, ‘I saw that sign and it made me feel less alone.’”

When Buzz first started his work, he was also grappling with depression.

“I was experiencing depression on a personal level when I decided it might help to assist other people. So I got involved in organizations like SpeakUp ReachOut, the Eagle Valley Behavioral Health Department as well as the Don’t Give Up Movement.”

Buzz continued to buy and place his signs, and continued to stay involved. Before long he had placed over 300 signs throughout the community. He used his FirstBank Volunteer Time-Off allowance whenever he could, and when that ran out, he reached out to his supervisors for help.

“Anytime I’m doing suicide prevention events my coworkers are supportive and my supervisors are quick to offer me the opportunity to do volunteer work. It feels good to work for a company that’s supportive of the community and willing to help others.”

He was new to banking when he joined the company as a teller in November 2019 after learning that one of the nonprofits he volunteered with banked with FirstBank. Having managed restaurants for 40 years, the career shift meant there was a lot to learn.

He laughed as he recalled telling someone, “nothing is impossible when broken down into its smaller, possible parts. Then I learned that in banking there are 10,000 possible parts.”

Luckily he’s taken to the job and embraced the challenges that have come as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. As a former restaurant worker, Buzz knows how unpredictable the industry can be even in the best of times, and the pandemic has only made things more uncertain.

But he praised FirstBank’s response to the crisis, from processing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to supporting nonprofits and first responders.

Nonprofits have also ramped up their outreach efforts during this pandemic. Research shows that isolation can be detrimental to mental health, but that even socially-distanced contact can help.

“These organizations have stepped up, especially on social media, to reach out to individuals, so they know they’re not alone throughout all of this. It’s been difficult and we’re still learning the best way to stay connected, but it’s helping,” Buzz explained.

He has no plans to stop either. He moves his signs regularly, so he can reach the most people, and he encourages others to volunteer as well, especially if they’re going through a tough time.

“Getting out there and speaking to others facing similar issues really helps,” he said.

Banking for Good

We hear the word “good” so often that its meaning feels dulled. The word itself can mean radically different things depending on your perspective. In this landscape, of pandemics and unrest, is there room for such a word, and if so, is there an objective meaning?

To this, Buzz gave a delightfully simple answer.

“Good is helping others, and knowing that even simple gestures can make a big impact,” he said.

For proof of this, look no further than Buzz’s signs. The ones you’ll see endorsing hope on lawns across Eagle County. The ones that read:

Don’t Give Up

You Matter

You Are Enough

You Are Not Alone

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