OGDEN -- Every 16 hours someone in Utah commits suicide.
Utah ranks seventh in the nation when it comes to suicide deaths. It is also the eighth-leading cause of death in the state.
Those figures, released by Weber Human Services, are one reason the organization is heading up a Mental First Aid course for the public next year.
The program was developed in Australia in 2001 by Betty Kitchener (http://thebravediscussion.com/2011/10/betty-kitchener-and-mental-first-a...), a nurse who specialized in health education, and her husband Tony Jorm, a mental health literacy professor.
"Together they decided to create a program that would help people know how to be of help to someone experiencing a mental health crisis," said Weber Human Services communication specialist, Laura Stevenson. "The help is given until appropriate treatment and support are received or until the crisis is resolved. Since its creation, the program has spread like wildfire all over the globe."
Stevenson said in 2008, the program was adapted into the United States and now has instructors in all 50 states and 21 countries.
Next year courses will be offered to the public, said Tyson Barlow, a licensed clinical worker at Weber Human Services.
"There are many topics covered in the eight-hour course that include depression, anxiety, psychosis and substance misuse. Throughout the course, participants will learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms as well as how to help someone who is experiencing them," Barlow said. "The action plan detailed in the course covers how to help not only those who are experiencing a mental health crisis but also how to help someone who is in the early stages of development with early intervention."
The course also shows a variety of ways to help everyone, whether it be someone you just met or a close family member or friend.
"Mental Health First Aid is easily compared to medical first aid," Stevenson said. "It gives everyone the tools to help someone in need until they can receive the professional help they require or until they are feeling better."
Anna Lopez, an adult mental health therapist at Weber Human Services said when you recognize someone you care about or are around seems depressed or hopeless, be ready to ask them if they are having thoughts of suicide or if they are having thoughts of killing themselves or going to sleep and never waking up. If they say yes, listen to the problems they think suicide would solve and ask them to let you get them help.
"If you are with someone who has thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK or the Weber County crisis line at 801-625-3700. After that person has received help, stay in touch with them," she said.
Lopez said common symptoms of suicidal thoughts include hopelessness, depression, feeling like you are a burden to others, relapse of drug use and alcoholism or feeling overwhelmed by changes in your life.
"Having good mental health is important to everyone. Our mental health affects our ability to work, form relationships and be happy," Stevenson said. "If you noticed that someone was experiencing a medical crisis or that someone seemed to be developing a physical illness you would do what you could to help them and encourage them to seek professional help. Why should it be any different when it comes to mental health? Too often the signs and symptoms of a mental health problem go overlooked and unaddressed. What we are trying to do with this program is change the attitude that people have toward mental health. We want everyone to feel knowledgeable and comfortable addressing mental health concerns."
For more information on when the courses will be available, call Stevenson at 801-625-3613 or email her at email@example.com.
Utah youth suicide facts:
* Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for kids ages 10 to 17 and the eighth-leading cause of death in Utah.
* Utah ranks fifth in the nation for youth suicide deaths and seventh in the nation overall.
* Every day in Utah there is a suicide every 16 hours
* Every day in Utah two youth, two young adults, two adult men and four adult women are treated for suicide attempts.
* 598 youth in Utah attempted suicide in 2011.
* 40 million adults across the nation suffer from an anxiety disorder. This can include generalized anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks.
* One in 10 U.S. adults report being depressed
* If you are feeling suicidal thoughts or know someone who is having thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK or 801-625-3700.
SOURCES: Weber Human Services, Anxiety and Depression Association of America.