(Salt Lake City, UT) – A report from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) shows that an average of two Utahns die from suicide every day and 12 Utahns are hospitalized or treated in an emergency department due to injuries from a suicide attempt. In 2014, 555 Utahns died from suicide, a decline from 570 in 2013. Preliminary data suggest the number of suicides will exceed 600 for 2015.
Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death in Utah and the suicide rate was the 7th highest in the country in 2014 (22.9 per 100,000 persons vs. 15.4 per 100,000 persons). “We have a more comprehensive, collaborative approach to suicide prevention in Utah than ever before,” said Andrea Hood, suicide prevention coordinator at the UDOH. “Our hope is that the strategies we are all working so hard on will save lives and bring hope to those who are feeling alone or hopeless, because each life matters.”
While suicide prevention among youth continues to be a priority for state and local officials, prevention efforts are needed for all ages. Data from 2012-2014 shows the highest rate for suicide in Utah were persons aged 45-54 years (34.0 per 100,000 population), whose suicide rate is approximately five times higher compared to the youth rate (7.5 per 100,000 population).
Suicide is complex and generally cannot be attributed to a single cause or event. Suicide is often preceded by a lifetime history of traumatic events. Additional factors that put a person at risk of suicide may include alcohol or drug abuse, having a diagnosable mental health disorder, easy access to lethal means such as guns or pills, family history of suicide or violence, lack of social support, loss of a close family member or friend (especially if it was by suicide), physical health issues such as a traumatic brain injury or chronic pain, relationship or school problems, and other stressful life events or losses.
Findings in the report point to specific circumstances and stressors surrounding risk for suicide deaths in Utah. Males were more likely to have a crisis within two weeks of their death, intimate partner problems, job problems, school problems, and legal problems compared to females. Females were more likely to have a diagnosed mental illness, current mental illness treatment, history of mental illness treatment, and a history of suicide attempts prior to their death compared to males.
“Suicide is one of those things that can be uncomfortable to talk about. But research shows that asking directly about suicide does not cause them to act out on those thoughts. Rather, it opens up the door for that person to get the help they need,” said Kimberly Myers, suicide prevention coordinator for the Utah Department of Human Services. “Treatment and intervention work. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or talking about suicide, help is available. Don’t give up. You are not alone.”
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.
For a copy of the Suicide in Utah report visit http://www.health.utah.gov/vipp. For more information on suicide prevention visit http://utahsuicideprevention.org.
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Andrea Hood, UDOH
(o) 801-538-6599 (m) 801-913-6304
Kimberly Myers, DSAMH
(o) 801-538-4028 (m) 801-633-2408