Suicide is a major public health threat in Utah.  Males are more likely than females to have had a crisis within two weeks of their death such as intimate partner problems, job problems, school problems and criminal problems.  Females, were more likely to have a diagnosed mental illness, current mental illness treatment, history of mental illness treatment, leaving a suicide note, and a history of suicide note, and a history of suicide attempts compared to males.

In order to gain a better understanding of suicide, one should consider looking at risk & protective factors:

Suicide is a complex behavior and generally cannot be attributed to a single cause or event.  Research has found that approximately 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental health or substance use disorder at the time of their death.  Suicide is also often preceded by a lifetime history of traumatic events.  Several other factors that put a person at increased risk for suicide may include:

     * Alcohol or drug abuse
     * Diagnosable mental health disorder
     * Easy access to lethal methods, such as guns or pills
     * Family history of suicide or violence
     * Lack of social support
     * Loss of a family member or friend, especially if by suicide
     * Physical health problems like chronic pain or traumatic brain injury
     * Relationship or school problems
     * Stressful life event or loss
Protective Factors are conditions or attributes in an individual, family, or community that increase the health and well-being of children and families.  Protective Factors may reduce suicide risk by helping people cope with negative life events, even when those events continue for a period of time.  The ability to cope or solve problems reduces the chance that a person will become overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious.
     * Receiving effective mental health care or substance abuse treatment
     * Positive connections to family, peers, community, and social institutions that foster resilience
     * Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide, such as guns or pills
     * Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent handling of disputes
     * Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation
     * Youth who are bullied at school more than once during the past year were over four times more likely to have seriously considered suicide compared with their peers who had not been bullied.
     * Screen time for students who play video games or use computers for non-school related activities for three or more hours a day were twice as likely to have considered suicide compared to those who had two or fewer hours of daily screen time.
If you would like to help someone else:
     * Take any warning signs of threat of suicide seriously
     * If you are seeing warning signs, ask the person directly if they are thinking about suicide. Asking does not increase risk of a suicide attempt.
     * Do not leave the person alone
     * Listen without judgement. Gently guiding them to talk about their past or current reasons for living may be helpful.
     * Remove guns or pills to prevent a suicide attempt.
     * Call a therapist or local behavioral health authority to request a crisis appointment.  You may also call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) to ask for help and get advice on what to do next.  Work with a counselor to create and implement a plan to keep the person safe.
     * If the person has a weapon or is not responding to attempts to contact them, call 911 and request a Crisis Intervention Team officer to do a welfare check.
     * Support the person in receiving ongoing mental health treatment including medications, talk therapy, and self-help as appropriate.
Upcoming events:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Community Walks to Fight Suicide on Saturday, September 22nd at the Colton Pavillion. Register today at afsp.org/vernal.
Survivors of Suicide Loss Day on Saturday, November 17th, 10:00- 12:00 at TriCounty Health Department.  Register is open at https://afsp.org/survivor_day/vernal-utah-2/.
Source: Utah Department of Health
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