Governor Spencer Cox is planning to visit all 29 Utah counties to meet with students, neighbors, and local business owners.

He told audiences last night that he would visit Iron and Washington Counties early next month.

Cox kicked off what he's calling his "Connecting Utah Tour" on Monday at Tooele High School.

He told students and local officials who filled the auditorium, "I believe in the future because I believe in you." (Sounds like a Whitney Houston song, eh?).

He also took questions from students who asked about a range of issues including diversity and mental health.

Cox said the next stops on his "Connecting Utah Tour" will be in Cedar City and St. George in early April, although Washington County School District official Steve Dunham said the governor's office had yet to contact him about when they were coming and what school they planned to visit.

A common theme for the tour will be the education system in the state of Utah.

“One of the things I am worried about is making sure that we have the best education system in the world, and that we are paying our teachers enough so that they can make a living and so that some of you will also want to become teachers, so I am very grateful this year that we signed the largest increase in education funding in our state’s history,” he said.

That statement led to a roaring round of applause.

Cox also said he is a big advocate of suicide prevention and said he had his own struggles when he was young.

“When I was 11 years old, my parents got divorced, and that was a really hard time for me,” he said. “At that same time, I went to middle school, I was a victim of bullying for a couple of years. I just went to a really dark place and started thinking that maybe the world would be a better place if I wasn’t there.”

Cox said friends and family members helped get him through that difficult time.

“I will be forever grateful for them, for their love of me, for seeing something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” he said. “I am really glad I stayed. My message to all of you is if some of you are feeling that way now, I need you to stay. I need you to talk to someone. I am so glad that we are investing in counselors now.”

Young people struggling with suicidal thoughts are encouraged to go to, and the new suicide hotline is a great resource for those seeking help -- simply dial 988 anywhere, anytime.

Information on Cox's visit to southern Utah during the "Connecting Utah Tour" will be forthcoming and of course, we'll keep you posted.

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