This year I was invited to join the Suicide Prevention Coalition for the Alpine School District area. This coalition was formed to research data specific to our area (North Utah County) and to work together to identify opportunities for community education and outreach to reduce suicide rates. At our January meeting, we discussed recent trends and patterns based on information obtained from various sources. There was some good news and some concerning news, including the following:
- Suicide rates in most of the area are below the state average, however, the rates for our zip code (Pleasant Grove & Cedar Hills – 84062) are above the state average (32.04 vs 27.99).
- The SafeUT app is being used and has received over 5,000 tips/chats from those in ASD schools since 2017. About 61% of the tips come from students in junior high.
- Over the past four years, there has been an increase in positive attitudes about seeking help for suicidal thoughts, but there has also been an increase in suicidal ideation among some grades (4.4% increase among 6th graders and an 8.7% increase among 12th graders).
- Suicide rates in our area are higher than the state rate during “transition years”, such as after college graduation or nearing retirement. The rates in our area that are higher than the state rates are for ages 25-29 (46.18 vs 30.74) and ages 55-59 (30.14 vs 24.46).
With this data, the coalition will now work on intervention strategies. As part of this, there needs to be greater awareness about the SafeUT app, and I encourage all parents to install this on all smartphones in your home, for adults and children. This app allows kids to safely report concerns they have about a variety of topics, such as suicide, bullying, depression, self-harm, and drug use. It also provides adults and children with instant access to a clinician if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts or need immediate crisis intervention.
This is an important topic and I will continue to work with many others in our area to address it. As we continue to meet, I will share with residents resources that are available and the ways we are working to provide intervention strategies. For more information on the SafeUT app, visit safeut.med.utah.edu.