Youth Suicide Rates In Utah Up By 141 Percent: Report

By Athena Chan | Dec 01, 2017 09:06 PM EST

The number of Utah youths committing suicide has been increasing at an alarming rate in the last few years. Apart from increasing access to mental health care, promoting connectedness at home and conducting suicide prevention programs may help address this growing problem.

Significant Increase In Utah Youth Suicides

Between 2011 and 2015, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) observed a significant increase in suicide deaths among young between the ages of 10 and 17. In fact, compared to the national increase of 23.5 percent, there was a staggering 141 percent increase in suicide rates among Utah youths. Among the deaths, 75.4 percent were of youths between the ages of 15, and 17, 77 percent were male, and 81.3 percent were non-Hispanic white youths.

To more thoroughly understand the factors that led to this increase, UDOH sought the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) whose officers conducted an investigation on the matter.

Factors That Led To Suicide

Fifty-five percent of the individuals who died by suicide reportedly experienced a crisis within two weeks prior to their death. This includes stressful events such as a death in the family or relationship problems. Further, 23.9 percent of them expressed wanting to die within a month of their death, and 29.6 percent of them already had a history of suicide attempts or expressing an intent to commit suicide.

Some risk factors linked to suicide intents were online bullying, being white, substance use in the past month, being in 10th grade, being female, and low parental education.

Over 35 percent of those who died by suicide were diagnosed with a mental health problem, and over 30 percent were depressed at the time of their death. Interestingly, 12.6 percent of those who committed suicide reportedly experiences familial conflicts arising from technology restriction. This includes having gadgets such as tablets, mobile phones, laptops, or gaming systems being taken away by a parent or guardian.

Addressing The Suicide Problem

According to the report, approximately 19 percent of youths between 10 and 17 has considered or planned committing suicide. In fact, there were 3,005 emergency department visits among Utah youths for self-inflicted injuries between 2011 and 2014.

As such, being in supportive social and familial environments is seen as protective factors against suicide intents and attempts. These are environments wherein an individual feels valued, involved, and safe to ask for help when they so need it.

Increasing access to mental health care, fostering strong family relationships, preventing forms of violence, and controlling access to lethal means are some of CDC's recommendations along with strengthening the youths' coping and problem solving skills and suicide prevention programs.

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