What is really going on with Utah’s Suicide Epidemic?

As originally published on MormonHub.com

There is something strange going on in Utah. The State finds itself on two different top-ten lists that you may have seen or heard about. According to the latest Gallup poll, Utah is one of the 10 happiest states in the country. This is a greatly reassuring statistic to hear if you happen to live in the Beehive State. However there is another top 10 list Utah places on that is a little more alarming — suicide.State Suicide top-10

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the specific demographic most at risk of suicide nationwide are teenagers. It is the 2nd leading cause of death for anyone between the ages of 10 and 20, the first being accidents. And according to a CDC investigation in Utah, there has been a “141.3% increase in suicides among Utah youth aged 10-17 from 2011 to 2015, compared to an increase of 23.5% nationally (UDOH).” This statistic is beyond alarming.

teen suicide heatmapWhen I look at these numbers, I am deeply disturbed. And I feel like, in public conversation about depression and suicide, we often lose sight of the reality that these numbers represent real children who were once alive, but are now dead. These numbers represent families struggling to know how to move forward and communities in grief.

So in our discussion of this sensitive issue, let’s not lose sight of this one absolute reality — real teenagers with real hopes and dreams, with real families, neighbors, and friends — are dying by their own hands at an alarming rate within the State of Utah.

What I hope to do in this article is take an issue normally discussed in a 2-dimensional fashion and make it 3-dimensional. We like to create strawmen villains to pin the blame on. Oversimplifying an issue is a good way to create sensational headlines, but a terrible way to create helpful and constructive dialogue. Depression and suicide in Utah are often blamed on one or two things, but I want to show that there might be a lot more going on. This can help us have a better conversation about how to begin healing the issue.

To read in full, head to MormonHub.com

Article also canonized by Meridian Magazine


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