Utah Governor Gary Herbert recently created a 14 person task force in response to the rise of suicides in Utah during 2017. The panel is working to identify existing programs. From there, they plan to use those programs to build a bank of resources to help those struggling with suicidal thoughts.
Putting Help in the Palm of Your Hand
One of the programs that this panel is focusing on is SafeUT. This mobile app allows people to report mental health issues, whether their own or their concerns about friends. Through the app, you can also talk to crisis counselors from University of Utah. The panel hopes to see this app to gain some more attention so that people can feel comfortable relying on it for help.
Training Healthcare Professionals
It’s important that people who work in health care are not only able to recognize suicidal behaviors, but understand how to properly respond to these warning signs. Furthermore, the panel wants their education to include training and coping skills for teens. It’s not uncommon for teenagers to go through difficult times, whether that be losing a loved one or struggling in school. By having training, healthcare professionals will be able to help teens overcome these obstacles and look towards the future with hope.
Mobile Crisis Outreach Teams
These outreach teams work like an ambulance, but specifically focus on those struggling with mental health. With training, these teams can help stop suicides or get to a scene early enough to revive someone who attempted suicide. This service is currently working in Salt Lake City, but the panel would like to see these efforts expand to reach the entire state.
Gun Locks and Safes
This piggy-backs on a statewide campaign started in 2016 called “Is Your Safety On?” Within the first few months 2017 alone, the campaign was able to distribute 40,000 gun locks. Herbert’s panel is still following along with this campaign seeing as around half of the youth suicides in Utah were with a firearm. They would like to increase the number of gun locks and safes in Utah households.
In 2014, Utah had the fourth highest suicides rates in the country. Through the efforts of the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition, they have now dropped to 10th. Governor Herbert’s task force works tirelessly to help those numbers decrease through education, awareness, open dialogue and easily accessible resources.
Text by Katherine Polcari