Youth Suicides in Utah

Meya Smith, Reporter

Utah has been reported to be included in the Suicide Belt. The belt is composed of the regions that have particularly high suicide rates in the Western United States. says that 37 youths every year are lost to suicide and 942 are injured from attempts. In 2013, suicide became the leading cause of death in ages 10 to 19 in Utah. You may be asking yourself why is the rate so high and what leads our youth to feel that they only solution is to end their life?

Research finds that youths with positive family environments and attend religious services weekly were less likely to even consider taking their lives. However, youths whose parents had a divorce are shown to be more likely to consider. Boys in these situations are even more open to the thought and are more likely to be taken by suicide.

Why would a child begin to feel as though they should commit suicide when their parents get a divorce? They might think that their parents inability to make marriage work between them is their fault. Counselor Kevin Waite says, “They may feel if they remove the problem, which may be themselves, then maybe they may feel their parents relationship will improve.” It is important that parents make it clear that their own relationship problems are not their child’s fault, there may not even be anyone to put at fault.

Women are usually the ones to stay with children in the event of a divorce and the absence of a father often affects sons more than a daughters. Also, boys are more resistant to talk of their feelings and keep more to themselves than females in the typical American social structure. Boys are found to try to take their lives in more violent ways than girls. Males often choose to harm themselves with guns where areas females choose to overdose on pills. Females have higher rates of suicide ideation, however because males choose more brutal acts of harm there are more deaths due to suicide in young males rather than females.

Although the survival rate of youths that have attempted suicide via overdose is more likely, there are still damages to the body. Those that survive an overdose will endure long term consequences in their body such as brain damage. This brain damage may impair a person’s hearing and sight. You may be left uncoordinated or with an injured memory. It is possible that you have trouble holding on to clear thoughts and may experience trouble with reading or writing.

Young adults will seriously consider suicide if they begin having problems with those they are involved with in intimate relations, if they are abusing substances or have a history of suicide attempts. Youth often consider suicide when they have other relationship problems. In both, bullying is linked to reasons youth will consider suicide. Whether they are being bullied because of the way they dress or their sexual orientation, teens specifically feel that there is no other way to deal with the pain, emotional or physical, that is inflicted upon them.

Many believe that there are multiple ways to deal with bullying such as getting help. However, teens have admitted that they fear if they were to reach out for help, it would only result in more bullying. It has even been said that bullying builds character. Although this may be true to a certain point, bullying can have a lasting impression in a negative way. Youths that are bullied are commonly depressed, anxious and feel alone in the big world. Kids who are constantly bullied may even retaliate with violent actions such as school shootings. Others who look at suicide as a way to create an end to their problems may have personality disorders, bipolar disorder or are depressed.

When asked what they believe leads teens to seriously consider suicide, counselors Gill Alvarez and Kevin Waite agreed that suicidal thoughts do not happen overnight, nor are these thoughts due to one singular event. These thoughts occur after numerous events. If you think that someone you know may be contemplating suicide, there are signs you can look for.

Such signs may be a sudden disinterest in something he or she once enjoyed, he or she begins to push friends away, self harm, substance abuse, decline in grades and/or attendance, loss of appetite. More information can be found here. If you feel concerned for someone you know, speak to your counselor and they can find ways to help.

East High even has a HOPE SQUAD. This program trains teens to be aware of warning signs and ways to help their peers. This program’s members are all students from East High. Students may feel more comfortable talking to someone their age that will actually listen instead of overlooking what they are saying and this program provides just that

If you yourself feel as though suicide is a solution, you don’t have to feel that way. Speak about your problems to your counselor or a trusted family member. Suicide is not a cure-all and your life’s worth living. Teens may not feel comfortable with confiding in someone with their thoughts because they think that they could get in trouble or they don’t want to be “that kid”. However, when you go to a counselor, although they may need to notify your legal guardians, what you tell them does not get told to anyone else. Waite adds “Students shouldn’t feel that they’re alone. They should know that there are people here and outside of school so don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Many youths do not fully understand the actual outcome of harming themselves. They may feel as though they are on their own and forget to think of those they are leaving behind. They may even underestimate the permanence of their actions. Suicide is a serious problem in Utah and our community should be looking for ways to help decrease the rate of youth and adult suicides.

Singer Drew from X-Factor reminds that, “There is always opportunity even when the day you’re in lacks opportunity. People forget that the day they’re in is just that- a day and there are more opportunities.”

It is encouraged that you download the app SafeUT crisis line. The University of Utah provides a crisis line as well. Just call 801-587-3000.