Denver (CO), – The number of calls to the Utah suicide prevention line grew tenfold over the past three years, exceeding the national average in that same period, an official document revealed on Wednesday.
The report, prepared by the Office of the Auditor General of the State of Utah, noted that calls to this social service went from less than 500 to just over 5,000 per month.
This study analyzed the work of the crisis service of the Neuropsychiatric Institute of the University of Utah (UNI), in charge of coordinating the agencies that receive calls from potential suicide victims and refer those people to the corresponding services.
In the years analyzed, the suicide rate in Utah rose from 17.1 per 100,000 people (about 530 suicides per year) to 22.9 per 100,000 people (about 680 per year).
That means an increase of 34%, above the 21% increase nationally and 7.5 points above the national suicide rate.
“The suicide rate in Utah … has remained above the national index for more than a decade,” the report explains, a 75-page document.
UNI programs were established in 2012 and expanded three years later when the Utah federal prosecutor allowed calls for mental health crisis assistance to be made also through a smartphone application.
The study determined that the use of this option tends to grow after the media announces the suicide of a known figure (recently, Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain).
In addition, most calls now come from students or teachers in middle or high schools, and tertiary institutions.
As for adolescents and young adults, Utah also exceeds the national average, with 20 suicides per 100,000 young people between 15 and 24 years old (13 per 100,000 in the United States).
Among Hispanics, that rate is 13.4 per 100,000, twice the national rate.
The report calls for support for an initiative by the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition to reduce the statewide index by 10 points by 2026.
“Intervention services help to stabilize people with mental health crises and prevent unnecessary trips to the hospital,” says the report and stresses that mental health crisis response programs should be “promoted, expanded and evolved” to respond to the new reality (EFEUSA).