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Herriman residents try to “Take Charge” to prevent more teen suicides

HERRIMAN – A frightening number of suicides at Herriman High School has residents and community organizers trying to figure out how they can prevent any more from happening.  They’re hosting a suicide prevention event tonight at Copper Mountain Middle School.

Organizers of the Take Charge event at Copper Mountain Middle School say there is a lot of bad information going around about the suicides.  For example, people are speculating on how many have happened.

“The numbers range from six to eight, or possibly nine,” said Herriman Community Awareness Organization founder Teddy Hodges.

Plus, many people in the community are pointing fingers and blaming certain things as the sole reason behind the deaths.  Hodges says some people may blame parents while others blame previous administrators at Herriman High school.

“There is not ‘one reason’ for suicide.  There is not ‘one cause’ for suicide and there’s definitely not ‘one person’ that can affect it tremendously, other than a parent.”

The “Take Charge” event focused a lot on how adults can speak to teens about their depression or suicide, and how to spot the warning signs of someone in crisis.

“We definitely, in Herriman, all of the citizens are in crisis,” Hodges says.

Utah suicide prevention researcher Michael Staley says suicide isn’t easily explained, and a community forum won’t end suicide or suicidal behavior. But he calls it a start.

The Deseret News reports the meeting in Herriman drew about 400 couples, families with teens, school administrators, pastors and counselors.

It follows a 2017 study by the state and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found that 42 young Utahns from ages 10 to 17 killed themselves in 2017.

Researchers say the frequency of youth suicides in Utah more than doubled from 2011 to 2015, to a rate more than 2.5 times the national average.

State officials plan to pick three school districts to share a $1.8 million state grant aimed at addressing teen suicides.