HEALTH

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).

RELATED READING:

Utah launches $2 million suicide prevention campaign

LGBTQ Teens & Suicide Prevention

Tackling suicide prevention in Utah with Jon Gossett

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Health

The Utah House has advanced the bill that bans transgender-related surgeries on minors and pauses t...
Aimee Cobabe

Equality Utah supports bill clarifying rules for therapists when it comes to conversion therapy for minors

Equality Utah is supporting a bill adjusting rules for therapists when it comes to conversion therapy for minors.
2 days ago
When inversions bring pollution to the ground, we breathe it in. That makes it easier to get sick a...
Dale Spaulding

Is illness or poor air quality causing that cough?

Inversion can impact a person's health. Is that why people are coughing, or is it just the regular cold and flu season?
2 days ago
A woman wearing white sitting in front of a light box...
Michelle Lee

Winter blues: light therapy and lifestyle changes can help

SALT LAKE CITY – With the chilly weather and the shorter days, many people are prone to experience the winter blues. In the latest Let’s Get Moving with Maria podcast episode, host Maria Shilaos spoke with Dr. Jason Hunziker from the Huntsman Mental Health Institute about ways people can overcome the winter blues. Seasonal depression […]
3 days ago
A new study finds that reports of bad weather and air actually decrease ridership on the UTA....
Devin Oldroyd

Relief from inversion and poor air quality may be in Utah’s near future

The Beehive State is in the middle of some thick inversion and poor air quality, but relief may be on the way according to the National Weather Service.
5 days ago
A study by Intermountain Health that spanned 40 years and sought answers about the health of people...
Simone Seikaly

Intermountain’s 40-year study provides insight into weight-loss surgery

In some cases the results from the weight-loss surgery study were expected. But at least one result could be a cause for alarm and caution.
5 days ago
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued a recall for mil...
Simone Seikaly

Check your pantry, a Conagra canned meat recall may affect you

Millions of pounds of canned meat and poultry products (mainly Vienna sausages) are involved in the Conagra recall.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

This article about skijoring is sponsored by the Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau. Participate in Skijoring the Bear on February 20th, 2023.  What is skijoring? Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and […]
Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Unusual trends regarding suicide prevention in Utah in the age of COVID-19