Unusual trends regarding suicide prevention in Utah in the age of COVID-19

May 4, 2020, 6:52 PM | Updated: 6:57 pm
suicide prevention Utah COVID-19...
A different group of people is contacting Utah's suicide prevention hotlines. They are young, and haven't experienced social isolation before now. (Stock photo, KSL)
(Stock photo, KSL)

SALT LAKE CITY — Advocacy groups are beefing up mental health care resources to help with suicide prevention during the stress of COVID-19.  Still, there appear to be some surprising trends when it comes to actual suicides.

It appears, at first glance, that those numbers have gone down.

Enough suicide prevention resources?

Just a month ago, ABC News reported calls to the Disaster Distress Helpline (offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) spiked nearly 900 percent compared to last year.  Some federal officials wondered if the country had enough resources to handle a growing mental health crisis.

The stress that comes from isolation and economic hardship is very real, according to NAMI Utah Executive Director Rob Wesemann, and he says younger people are feeling the sting more than older people.

“We seem to hear the stories about isolation more from young people,” he said.  “It has been a real struggle with this decrease in socialization and social activity.  In some folks, we’re seeing an increase in anxiety.”

Calls to Utah suicide prevention helplines are up

Wesemann says calls to Utah’s helplines are also way up.  However, according to initial information, they’re optimistic suicides in Utah will be down in March and April compared to last year. Those numbers have to be confirmed.

Wesemann believes there are two different camps dealing with the hardship from COVID-19.  Those who already have a chronic mental illness, and those people who are dealing with acute stress from this particular problem.  In a way, he says the people who have a pre-existing mental health problem were better equipped to handle the situation.

“They’ve got a counselor.  They’re taking medications.  They’re doing other things.  What we’ve been concerned about is making sure that those individuals continue with those support systems,” he says.

For many, helpless or hopeless feelings are new

People who haven’t experienced a chronic mental illness are dealing with a kind of pressure that they’ve never felt before.  But Wesemann says counselors are doing an excellent job of talking them through their issues.

“Sometimes, just that call is enough.  Sometimes, you need more than that,” he said.

Groups like The Utah Pride Center are ramping up their counseling and suicide prevention resources.  They say LGBT youth in rural areas are especially vulnerable to suicide.

A resources page with a lot of information and contact numbers can be found here.

Anyone dealing with suicidal thoughts is urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


Utah launches $2 million suicide prevention campaign

LGBTQ Teens & Suicide Prevention

Tackling suicide prevention in Utah with Jon Gossett

Today’s Top Stories


Turkey and cattle farms near Moroni, Utah. Three additional cases of avian influenza have been conf...
Mark Jones

Three additional cases of avian influenza confirmed in Sanpete County

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food announced Friday that three additional cases of avian influenza have been confirmed on turkey farms in Sanpete County.
2 days ago
A sign for the Food and Drug Administration is seen outside of the headquarters in July 2020 in Whi...
Jacqueline Howard, CNN

ALS drug gets FDA approval despite uncertainty about effectiveness

The US Food and Drug Administration approved a new treatment for ALS on Thursday.
2 days ago
university of utah...
Mark Jones

University of Utah Health among the nation’s top 10 for 13th year in row

The 2022 Vizient Bernard A. Birnbaum, MD, Quality Leadership Award has ranked University of Utah Health in the top 10 for the 13th straight year.
3 days ago
intermountain healthcare...
Mark Jones

Name change coming to Intermountain Healthcare next year

In 2023, Intermountain Healthcare will change its name to Intermountain Health.
5 days ago
ovarian cancer...
Simone Seikaly

A new chance for a fighting chance against ovarian cancer

What may be most alarming about ovarian cancer is that the symptoms are there, but they are quiet and can be mistaken for something else.
5 days ago
Lincoln Beach pictured. Two shooting at Utah Lake happened near this beach....
Simone Seikaly

Utah County Health issues warning about harmful algal blooms

Utah County officials have detected high levels of harmful algal blooms at multiple Utah Lake marinas and beaches.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Unusual trends regarding suicide prevention in Utah in the age of COVID-19