May 3, 2024, Kaysville, Utah

While Kris Cottrell was ordering lunch at a Taco Time in Salt Lake City a few years ago, the manager of the store noticed his badge and asked where he worked. Kris replied he worked at a nearby psychiatric hospital and shared what he did there—helping acutely suicidal people in need of inpatient treatment in order to keep them alive. 

The store manager responded, "I wish there was something I could do to help people who are suicidal and wanting to self harm, but I don't know where to find them."

As Cottrell left the restaurant it dawned on him that actually he did know where they are. The hospital where he works treats hundreds of them a month. They populate hospitals, rehabs and other facilities all over the country. There is no shortage of them. And in Utah he knows exactly where they are. He realized he was in a position to help him. And so he decided to do something about it.

He created a foundation,, to help people struggling with anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. Cottrell's foundation is an unusual hybrid: it's a non-profit organization with a website and a tabloid newspaper. The blending of high- and low-tech allows Cottrell to enable anyone or any institution—regardless of its technology capabilities—to both generate and read notes of encouragement, notes of hope, notes for life.

To get the message out, Cottrell outfitted a used ambulance into a well-appointed, tastefully-designed tiny house. "I have no construction skills whatsoever. It was all YouTube, but it turned out great." Identity Graphyx of Salt Lake City designed and installed a bold, colorful vinyl wrap for a discount. “I use the ambulance for advertising and when delivering the notes to mental health facilities." said Cottrell. "When I drive it down the road, I want the ambulance to be noticeable. I want people to say 'what the heck is that?' and be curious about it. The wrap conveys the message of growth and life; Identity Graphix nailed it with their design." 

Cottrell is a Kaysville-based entrepreneur who has built and sold multiple companies. He has also earned a masters degree in mental health counseling. After selling his last company, Cottrell decided to apply his mental health counseling background at Salt Lake City Behavioral Health. At SLBH, Cottrell initially accepted a marketing and business development position at the hospital. Later he served as COO. As he became more involved in the operations of the hospital Cottrell  noticed a sizeable number, of patients, over 250, were coming through the door, many of them referrals from ERs, who were struggling with depression and suicidal ideation. His hospital sees hundreds of such cases a month. Other hospitals in the valley also see hundreds of suicidal patients each month.

Reflecting on his own positive experience and influences with written notes and letters while he was young, the idea hit him that he should create an organization that takes personal notes and uses them to uplift some of the most vulnerable members of our communities—those who are depressed and experience thoughts of self-harm.

 "When I was young, I saved thank you notes, cards, compliments, and other thoughtful letters that people had hand written and given me," said Cottrell. "They meant a lot to me and still do. I stored them in a folder and would re-read them later, because they lifted my spirits and made me feel good to know that someone cared enough about me to write a note."

Cottrell has adapted his related pre-existing non-profit foundation as the institutional home for The foundation is dedicated to the quest of improving mental health of individuals who are experiencing suicidal ideation by exposing them to uplifting, thoughtful notes from compassionate strangers. "All the notes are completely anonymous. I've set up a means for the people receiving the notes to send back a thank you or acknowledgement note to the anonymous sender," said Cottrell. "I wanted the authors of the notes to know their heartfelt notes were not just going into a black hole."

Currently, Cottrell has been gathering typed notes from his website, He includes these notes and handwritten notes from schools and other organizations and assembles them into a tabloid newspaper which he distributes to hospital psych units, substance abuse treatment centers, doctors' offices, and many businesses that have a waiting room. He also mails the printed tabloid directly to individual homes. Cottrell is also experimenting with working with people who are experiencing homelessness to distribute the newspapers via a program whereby these individuals are paid to distribute the newspapers. Cottrell encourages Utah companies to get involved in various ways through sponsorships or note-writing campaigns by their employees. 

The website also has a place to make a donation “put a stamp on the note.” All donations go to help pay for people's mental health treatment. “Most of us will need mental health treatment at different times in our lives, but many don’t have the means to pay for it. I want to help that population," said Cottrell.”

The results have been positive. He frequently hears from people who have received the notes that they chose to live as a result of the notes. He keeps many of these most impactful notes on his cell phone and re-reads them often.

"These notes are powerful," said Cottrell. "They are coming from people who have been there. They get it. And their notes are so encouraging. They can make the difference in the lives of those who are experiencing dark times. These notes we deliver are powerful messages of hope, encouragement, and self forgiveness."

To participate by writing a personalized note of love, support and encouragement to those who are suicidal or struggling with addiction or loneliness, visit

If you’d like to be a sponsor, please email Kris at

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