(Salt Lake City, UT) – A series of new reports from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) are a startling reminder of the tragic loss too many Utah families experience with suicide. In 2012, 545 Utahns took their own lives, up from 456 in 2011. The state’s suicide rate has been consistently higher than the U.S. rate for more than a decade and is the 7th highest in the country. In 2010, suicide was Utah’s 6th leading cause of death.
“Suicide is one of those things that can be uncomfortable to talk about,” said Teresa Betzer, UDOH Violence and Injury Prevention Program. “But the data show this is a problem we can’t ignore any longer. We all can play a role in preventing suicide.” Betzer says many Utahns would be surprised to learn how many people close to them have dealt with the issue.
Since 2010, an average of 501 Utahns died from suicide and 3,968 more were hospitalized or treated in an emergency department due to injuries from a suicide attempt each year. The data show that men ages 25-64 account for more than half (56.2%) of all suicide deaths in Utah, followed by women ages 25-64 (17.2%), young adults ages 18-24 (11.8%), older adults ages 65+ (10.7%), and youth ages 10-17 (4.0%). While males had higher rates of suicide death than females, more females attempt suicide than males. Youth and young adults were also more likely to attempt suicide.
The data also point to age-specific circumstances and stressors surrounding risk for suicide deaths in Utah. For example, adult females had significantly higher rates of
diagnosed mental illness, job problems, and death of a close family member or friend, while adult males were more likely to have alcohol and financial problems.
Among youth and young adults, the data show many experience relationship problems, including intimate partner relationship difficulties. Young adult males also had higher rates of substance abuse problems and a history of suicide attempts. Older adults were more likely to suffer from physical health problems that may have prompted the suicide.
To draw further attention to this issue, Governor Gary R. Herbert set aside today, May 22, 2014, as a day dedicated to the prevention of suicide. Agencies throughout the state have come together to develop a plan to decrease the number of suicide attempts and deaths in Utah. Led by the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition, these efforts include assessing suicide risk, referring those at risk for suicide to prevention resources, intervention and treatment, and providing support to survivors, family members and communities.
“The goal is for all Utahns to recognize that treatment and intervention work. Suicide is a public health problem and is preventable,” said Betzer. “If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or talking about suicide, know that help is available.”
"Everyone plays a role in suicide prevention," said Kim Myers, Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the Utah Department of Human Services. "We encourage all Utahns to learn the warning signs, help others who are struggling, call the prevention lines and, ultimately, save a life."
All suicidal thoughts, behaviors, and attempts should be taken seriously. Get help 24/7 by calling the Statewide CrisisLine at 801-587-3000 or the National Suicide Prevention LifeLine at 1-800-273-TALK. Help is also available online at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Trained consultants will provide free and confidential crisis counseling to anyone in need.
To download the suicide data reports visit health.utah.gov/vipp/suicide/.
The Utah Department of Human Services works to ensure children, families and adults in Utah communities are receiving the services they need to lead safe and healthy lives. For more information, and to find services in your area, visit hs.utah.gov.
# # #
The mission of the Utah Department of Health is to protect the public's health through preventing avoidable illness, injury, disability and premature death, assuring access to affordable, quality health care, and promoting healthy lifestyles.