Suicide rates increasing in Utah, but so are available resources

Dec 8, 2023, 7:00 PM

suicide prevention Utah...

FILE - One suicide prevention administrator, said rising rates mean there's a need for Utahns to actively engage in suicide prevention. (KSL)


SALT LAKE CITY — Suicide rates in Utah have increased 12% in 2022, compared to 2021. These new numbers come from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which released the numbers earlier this week.

Dr. Michael Staley with the DHHS said this is the most significant increase since 2018. He said these numbers reflect a pattern of rates increasing after major devastating world events.

“In any other tragic event that we’ve experienced over the last many decades, Sept. 11 attacks, and the Great Recession of 2008 we’ve seen this two-year leg period [of suicide increases],” Stanley said. “We knew this was a possibility coming out of the pandemic.”

COVID-19 and how it relates to suicide rates in Utah

There were a lot of stressors in the COVID-19 pandemic, Staley said. Many people were upended economically, lost loved ones and lost jobs.

This “despair” is cumulative, therefore the notable rise.

DHHS Suicide Prevention administrator Carol Ruddell, said these numbers indicate a need for Utahns to actively engage in suicide prevention.

“Suicide prevention is not something that a single organization or state agency can do alone,” Ruddell said. “This really requires every Utahn to be active, talking to friends and neighbors and checking in, being sure folks are doing well and feeling valued.”

Ruddell said Utah has a lot of suicide prevention resources to be aware of.

Crisis hotlines like 988 are available at all times to talk people through a mental health crisis. Ruddell said organizations like Live On can help people learn how to help loved ones with suicidal ideation.

Something to be aware of are the difficult conversations to be had about suicide, Staley said.

“We need to double down on people having access to lethal means,” Staley said. “We need to have conversations about somebody they trust holding firearms or helping them control their medication for a period of time.”

Awareness, connection and open conversations are the main ways people can avoid tragedy through suicide, Raddell said.

Suicide prevention resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Crisis hotlines

  • Huntsman Mental Health Institute Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
  • SafeUT Crisis Line: 833-372-3388
  • 988 Suicide and Crisis LifeLine at 988
  • Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386

Online resources

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Suicide rates increasing in Utah, but so are available resources