PREVENTING YOUTH SUICIDE IN UTAH
Utah’s teenage suicide rate has been consistently higher than the national average for over a decade.¹ An average of 22 Utah teens take their own life each year.² And many more attempts lead to hospitalizations and Emergency Room visits. Nearly 400 total teenage hospitalizations and ER visits due to suicide attempts occur each year in Utah.³
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for teens in Utah.¹ While suffocation remains the primary method used in completed suicides, firearm suicide is a very close 2nd place. 36% of youth suicides are committed with a firearm. Ensuring firearms are stored safely away from children and teens would help reduce the number of successful suicides and injuries from failed attempts by teens in Utah.
What to look for:
It is estimated that around 40% of youths who kill themselves had no known mental illness. Suicide can be an impulsive decision, especially among youth. BUT most people exhibit warning signs, and if caught in time, crisis intervention saves lives. And subsequent psychiatric treatment and counseling can provide extraordinary relief from the symptoms of depression.
* Talking about suicide, wanting to die or killing themselves
* Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
* Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
* Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
* Withdrawing or isolating themselves
* Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
* Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
* Talking about being a burden to others
* Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
* Acting anxious or agitated
* Reckless behavior
* Expressing rage or talking about seeking revenge
* Extreme mood swings
* History of previous suicide attempts
* Family history of suicide
* History of depression or other mental illness
* Alcohol or drug abuse
* A recent stressful life event or loss
* Easy access to lethal methods, especially a gun or pills
* Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others
Resources for those contemplating suicide.
1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-784-2433 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255
How to be Helpful to Someone Contemplating Suicide:
* Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
* Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings expressed.
* Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
* Get involved. Be available. Show interest and support.
* Never dare him or her to do it.
* Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
* Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
* Offer hope that alternatives are available but don’t offer glib reassurance.
* Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
* Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
Symptoms of Depression:
Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Knowing the symptoms of depression can help you or your loved ones get help BEFORE the problem escalates.
* Irritability or frustration even over small matters
* Unexplained physical problems such as back pain or headaches
* Loss of interest in things that used to feel pleasurable
* Insomnia or excessive sleeping
* Changes in appetite
* Agitation or restlessness, i.e. pacing, hand-wring, or the inability to sit still
* Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
* Indecisiveness, distractibility or decreased concentration
* Fatigue and loss of energy. Small tasks seem to require a lot of effort
* Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixations on failures or blaming one’s self
* Thoughts of death, dying or suicide
* Crying spells for no apparent reason
* Decrease in school performance
Find a Mental Health Professional:
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, do all you can to find a mental health professional BEFORE the illness progresses toward something more seriously like a suicide attempt. Depression can sometimes spiral downward very quickly. Get help sooner rather than later.
1 United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Online web query, 2013 2 Utah’s Indicator Based Information System for Public Health 2005-2009 data 3 Utah Department of Health Violence and Injury Prevention Program Teen Suicide Fact Sheet, 2009