UTAH: Utah Officials Unsure Why Youth Suicide Rate Has Nearly Tripled since 2007
According to a recent report, the suicide rate among 10- to 17-year-olds in Utah has nearly tripled since 2007 and is now the leading cause of death in that age group. The rate rose from 3.0 per 100,000 youth in 2007 to 8.5 per 100,000 in 2014. Andrea Hood, a suicide prevention coordinator at the Utah Department of Health, said that the state is investigating potential risk factors that may account for the increase, such as residents moving often leading to a lack of social connections and support, stigma against help-seeking, and high rates of firearm ownership. Suicide prevention efforts in the state have included gun safety measures, suicide prevention programs in schools, and a smartphone intervention that provides access to confidential crisis counseling. Cathy Davis, the suicide prevention specialist with Utah's state education office, emphasized the importance of suicide awareness in the community, “You want to create this great safety net for kids because it's really taking all of us to help prevent suicide. It's just making everybody alert to the signs of suicide, what to look out for, what signs of depression are in youth."
Spark Extra! To learn more about depression awareness and suicide prevention programs for middle school and high school students, check out school-based programs with evidence of effectiveness.