Youth suicides in Utah — an S-E reader conversation

Saturday , December 02, 2017 - 4:00 AM

GREG HALLING, Standard-Examiner Staff

Youth suicides increased by 141 percent in Utah between 2011 and 2015, according to data released Wednesday by state health officials.

Utah asked federal officials for assistance after the state’s youth suicide rate reached 11.1 for every 100,000 people in 2015. The national rate for 2015: 4.2 per 100K.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 150 Utahns between 10 and 17 took their own lives between 2011 and 2015. Most were male. Most used firearms.

  • RELATED: “Better data, more inclusive culture could help reduce youth suicides in Utah”

More than a third had received a mental health diagnosis and 55 percent had experienced a recent crisis.

“These statistics are more than just statistics — each and every one of those children are someone else’s entire world,” Cathy Davis, suicide prevention coordinator for the Utah State Board of Education, said at a Thursday morning press conference.

Among the CDC’s recommendations: Expanded access to evidence-based mental health care, stronger family relationships and improved social connections.

Here’s how readers reacted to the story when we shared it on Facebook. All quotes are verbatim:

Sam Herscheid-Rohde: I personally know of teens that committed or contemplated suicide in Utah because of family pressures put on them because of religious beliefs that the teen was not accepting of, so the kids felt as though they were outcasts from their family and couldn't handle those pressures. In some cases, I witnessed the treatment those kids received for not being active in the predominant religion and it broke my heart. Unconditional love will help many kids choose better options for dealing with what's troubling them.

JaNette Udy Rhodes: It’s not fair to put all LDS families in that category. There are a lot of us that love our children no matter what.

Sam Herscheid-Rohde: JaNette Udy Rhodes - Definitely! And I would never stereotype, but I also know first-hand of families that have done this to their kids and it breaks my heart.

Dakota Taylor: I think it is fair to put us in that category. It’s a cultural epidemic and it needs to change. Acknowledge the problem and you can fight the problem.

Sam Herscheid-Rohde: Dakota Taylor — That is exactly my point.

Verna Schuettpelz: I read all these comments and for those that want to blame the predominant religion in Utah for this problem I can’t agree with you. This problem is rampant across the country in all religious backgrounds and among kids whose families don’t claim a religion. I live in Florida and it’s a huge problem.It’s today’s culture, it’s to much pressure put on kids, the change in family dynamics, bullying, and abuse. We have had children as young as 7 here at our local hospital who were lost they thought it was the only way out.

Lisa Thomas: As an LDS mother of 2 children who are constantly mocked and bullied for their beliefs, I'm not sure that our church is to blame.

Chad McCrary: It’s quite easy to blame the predominant religion for everything in Utah because the “Mormons” are a easy target … how about we stop blaming and start working together? Most “Mormons” are good people who strive earnestly to live their faith.

Are there knuckleheads who claim membership in The “Mormon” Church? Absolutely! Shame on these folks for not living their religion like they should be!

Most “Non-Mormons” are good people with different beliefs. Are there knuckleheads in this group? absolutely!

We can all do better to be kinder to one another and look for warning signs so we can help people who are contemplating suicide.

There’s too much to live for and we all have more potential than any of us could imagine!

Galen Karas: Unless lds is less common then it was when I was in school, which it isn't, they're partially right. Kids who don't go to church are forced to be outcasts.... Kids have softer skin nowadays because I didn't mind it, I wouldn't quit skating Sundays to sit on a bench anyway so I didn't care ha ha.

Anna McCrary: Truthfully if there was more love in our own homes, this wouldn’t be an epidemic. Children learn by majority from their parents and other adult role models. What kind of examples are we setting? If we quit placing blame on everyone else and started re-evaluating what good could be done within our own lives and families, the communities that we live in would be much more kind, better places to live.

Wayne Feller: So ... What are we going to di about it?

And I am not talking about NAMI, Nu-Hope, etc. I mean you and I, the average citizen. What are we going to do to help those in crisis?

J Sanjuanico Alberto: This is heartbreaking.

Mikey N Emily Chapman: This is heartbreaking, but seriously, is anyone really surprised? With how the predominant religioni treats anyone not of their religion or beliefs, and the way it pressures it's youth, I'm almost surprised the number isn't higher.

Phil Henderson: Non-Mormons in Utah are treated far better than Mormons outside of Utah.

Stacy Swanson-Moore: Just love people. ALL people are perfectly made to be perfectly themselves. stop telling people of all ages that they will never measure up to some pre- determined idea of what normal is. Different does not mean broken. Start loving the beautiful, colorful tapestry that is Humanity ....

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