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Young women hold a photograph of a loved one lost at a suicide prevention candlelight vigil in 2015. (The Signpost Archives)

Suicide is a growing problem in both the United States and Utah. According to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 43,000 people in the country commit suicide each year.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that suicide is now the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. The Foundation also reports that for every successful suicide, there are an additional 25 suicide attempts.

In 2014, the Foundation reported that the suicide rate in Utah was 20.6 per 100,000, compared to 12.9 per 100,000 for the entire U.S. population, and that Utah has the fifth highest suicide rate in the U.S.

Suicide is reported to be the eighth leading cause of death in Utah. In Weber County, the Utah Department of Health reported that there were 17 suicide deaths between 2012 and 2014 in the 19-25 age range.

According to a report released by Utah health officials in July, suicide rates among 10-17 year old youths have tripled between 2007 and 2014, making suicide the leading cause of death in that age group.

According to Andrea Hood, a Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the Utah Department of Health, there are several identifiable causes for Utah’s high rate of suicide as compared to the national average.

Hood suggests that because Utah residents tend to move more frequently, they could be left with fewer social connections and support. There are also theories that lower oxygen levels at higher altitudes might contribute to higher suicide rates and that a western mentality of self-reliance may keep some from seeking help for depression.

The Utah Health Department has reported that it is also looking at recent LDS policies in connection with suicides.

“We have been closely watching our rates since various events that happened in Utah relating to the LDS church,” Hood said.

Hood reported that people who commit suicide are more likely to use guns if they own them than any other method. That extends to children, as nearly half of the youths who have died from suicide in recent years used a firearm.

There is suicide prevention assistance available in Utah, including the Utah Department of Health, Weber County Health Department, Northern Utah Suicide Prevention task force (NUHOPE) and at Weber State, the Counseling and Psychological Services Center and the LGBT Resource Center.

According to their website, “The Northern Utah Hope task force is an active coalition of mental health/social service providers, educators, survivors, law enforcement, veteran’s advocates, and concerned citizens working together to increase suicide awareness and prevention in Weber County. This month, NUHope will hold its 9th Annual Suicide Awareness Walk on Sept. 24 in downtown Ogden beginning on Historic 25th Street at 9:00 a.m.

The center at WSU has a staff of mental health professionals to help individuals work through those feelings.

Tamara Robinette, a trained mental health professional at the Counseling and Psychological Services Center, explained that it is not difficult to access assistance at the center, and that there are two one-hour open counseling sessions every day for students who want help. The center can be reached via phone at (801) 626-6406 or online.

The LGBT Center at WSU can also provide help to students. Jayson Stokes, the LGBT coordinator, said that the LGBT Center works closely with the Counseling and Psychological Services Center to help students struggling with suicidal concerns.

A list of resources and information can be found online. The center can be reached via phone at (801) 626-7271.

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