The Leopard

You Are Never Alone: Suicide Prevention

Aliya Lewis, Opinion Writer

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Suicide, by definition, is the act or instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally. Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in the state of Utah, making Utah the fifth highest rated state for suicide in the nation. It is also the number one leading cause of death of people ages 10 to 17 in the United States of America stated by a study posted in September of 2017. There was over 430 cases of suicide in the state of Utah identified by a medical examiner from the Utah Department of Health, not including the 420 cases that have yet to be diagnosed. This drastically rising number has not gone unnoticed by Utah’s government officials.

Health Department Spokeswoman Jenny Johnson has stated, “suicide-prevention programs need more funding in Utah — considering suicide is the eighth-leading cause of death in Utah overall, and the leading cause of death for ages 10 to 17. Health, education and other experts are attacking the problem on several fronts.”

Officials here in Utah have continued to implement mental health first aid and sessions for suicide intervention training. These courses have been help across the state in order to teach skills to help better interact with a suicidal teen. Johnson has also said, “Another big focus, has been raising awareness about the risks of firearms, encouraging friends and family to remove access to guns when someone is facing a mental health crisis.”

Elizabeth Brutsch, a health department epidemiologist, someone who studies or is an expert in the branch of medicine which deals with the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases, in the state of Utah has said, “…efforts are also underway to learn more about the factors contributing to individual suicide cases in Utah.”

These efforts have been made in order to learn the reasoning behind suicide to better combat them.  In the state of Utah there are over 500,000 permits for concealed weapons, as of 2013, making it one of the highest in the nation. Brutsch has also noted, “All the states with high suicide rates, including Utah, also have higher than average rates of gun ownership and more than half of Utah suicides are committed using a firearm.”  

There is obviously a huge issue with firearms being linked to suicide – not just in Utah, but around the nation – yet there is nothing being done to combat the ever growing, widespread problem that continues to plague our ever tarnished nation. The Salt Lake Tribune has once written that “youth suicide has increased each year nearly four times faster than the national average,” yet the people who have the power to do something do absolutely nothing to fix the problem.

So far, the only true progress that has been made is the SafeUT app and website that has been put into action by the government officials here in Utah. According to the description given by the Google Play store and iTunes when the application is selected to be downloaded, “The SafeUT Crisis Text and Tip Line app provides 24/7 access to crisis counseling and school tip reporting for students and their parents and guardians that live in the state of Utah. After installing the app you can connect directly to the UNI Crisis Line or report a confidential tip on bullying, school threats of violence or concern about someone in crisis. Crisis Line staff can assist with a wide variety of problems, including emotional crisis, grief and loss, drug and alcohol problems, mental health issues, self-harm and suicidal behavior.”  

This new resource has been well circulated among the high schools in Utah. Small cards are passed around here at East High School with information that explains what this app is for and how to use it; it is like a business card or miniature billboard advertising the “perks” of using SafeUT.

Once the app is downloaded it asks you to select the school that you attend. After your school of choice is selected the app questions whether you would like to speak to a crisis counselor through an anonymous chat, through an anonymous phone call, or if you would like to submit an anonymous tip to the administration at your school about someone you believe wants to hurt themselves or others in or outside of school. The app does not require any personal information upon sign up and does not request you to reveal anything about yourself or your situation unless you choose to on your own.

The government, the school board, parents, and others have taken action in the fight against suicide. Even though there have been a lot of steps taken by these people to combat the ever growing problem of suicide, there is still a lot that needs to be done. There are still so many more steps that need to be taken and many, many, more hurdles that need to be overcame. A genuine effort is being made and that is a truly amazing feat for not only the government but also for the families who need the help.

That being said, until the true problem is addressed and the reason behind the action is acknowledge there will never truly be any real change. We will still be faced with the ever rising number of fatalities the plague of suicide has left and will continue to leave in its wake unless we open our eyes to what is truly happening around us.

 

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