Comments about ‘Utahns think about suicide more than other Americans, study shows’

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Published: Friday, Oct. 21 2011 6:00 p.m. MDT

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Centerville, UT

Here is the most important line in the article is this:

"As I looked at the study, it was really hard to come up with any conclusions," said John Malouf, a Valley Mental Health psychologist with 37 years experience.

New Yorker
Pleasant Grove, UT

A possible explanation is that many LDS Church member "know" there is an other side and that part of their family is their. They don't just "believe" it. They also are not frightened by the traditional Christian warning that salvation is lost when one commits suicide because one (being now dead) has no opportunity to repent of what he has done (murder). For the LDS, earth life is the middle act in a three-act play and death is only a comma. Thoughts of moving on to the next phase might ill-advisedly be an appealing thought to someone who doesn't want to finish the trials of this earth life. Whatever the explanation is, someone needs to dig it out.

Bountiful, Utah

The study makes sense to me, if the study that Utah is the highest for mood altering prescription drug use is also correct. I'd suggest that people start ignoring the LDS culture more and pay more attention to the gospel. That is what I have done and I don't feel any of this cultural imposed stress to be better and more perfect than my neighbor. The gospel is all about peace, love, doing your best, etc.; the culture is all about keeping up an image of perfection.

Dallas, TX

More thoughts of suicide, but less thoughts of drowning your troubles in a bottle of Jack Daniels.

As a Mormon, I'd rather my son drank to escape his problems than thought of suicide.

But I suspect I'm in a minority in that opinion, in our culture.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

"As I looked at the study, it was really hard to come up with any conclusions," said John Malouf, a Valley Mental Health psychologist with 37 years experience. "There was nothing really obvious like of course this state or this region would have a higher rate of suicidal thinking because of this or because of that." ~ Deseret News article


"Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) .... Anyone considering the use of [Drug Name] or any other antidepressant in a child or adolescent must balance this risk with the clinical need. Patients who are started on therapy should be observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior." ~ FDA black box warning label on all Anti-Depressant medication.

1. The FDA warning specifically links antidepressant use to suicidal thoughts and behavior.

2. Utah has the highest use of Anti-Depressant medications in the nation.

Mystery solved.

Dallas, TX

The Utah anti-depressant statistic is probably meaningless on its own, without considering how citizens of other states deal with their stress.

And yes, we're all trying to learn to developed the emotional and spiritual strength to cope with all the stresses and strains of our society, and ultimately we need to be able to handle things on our own.

But people do turn to other aids when they are still learning how to handle their issues.

And an anti-depressant superscription won't keep one out of the Temple, but drinking or smoking pot will.

I think this is the cause of the high use in Utah, and not that Utahns' are any more depressed than Californians.

Blue Rampage
Salt Lake City, UT

I think LDS culture can be a contributing factor, but this is not to say that the Church or our religion is to blame.

LDS culture does set high standards and it is easy to feel depressed because we don't measure up. I have felt that way.

LDS people do see this life as a stepping stone to something better and when things get tough, we may look forward to "moving on." I have felt that as well.

Also, suicide is viewed strongly in LDS teachings and that could cause us to "think" and "reflect" upon it more deeply, especially when we know of another family who has been affected.

Moreover, the idea that we "answer more truthfully," could be a factor.

I believe that LDS people can become confused between what we "think we believe," and what we "really believe." Stephen Robinson's book, "Believing Christ" shed some light upon that for me. I think we must accept that we really won't work our way to perfection.

Maybe when times are tough, the message ought to be more about hope, and less about being perfect.


Two other reports I read this week...Utah has the lowest divorce rate and a higher median income.
A lot of expectations for a Utahn. Hopefully, you don't fall through the cracks.

Chino Valley, AZ

Having come from the Great Lakes area, I am surprised that the average suicide numbers are that low.

Knowing how the weather can influence a persons state of mind, making it difficult to cope with things at least on a daily bases.

In Michigan you can go days without seeing the sun, just grey clouds from fall to spring. Some mountainous states can also have the same conditions. Can be very depressing.

I see the Bible belt numbers are the lowest, maybe because there is more sun to brighten their spirits.

Bluffdale, UT

Perhaps many of those that thought of suicide in other states were no longer living to take the survey.

Sterling, VA

I know I'd be suicidal if I lived in Utah......

Seriously though, Utah does have a high prescription drug abuse and treatment for depression rate. The culture and predominant religion do play a role in this and how people get treatment. In other places, the ability to self medicate and de-stress does not come with religious ramifications. Suicidal thoughts are evidence that what you are doing is not working. Depression is not something that you can just "get over" and "choose to be happy". Just because you are religious and have certain beliefs does not make you immune to depression.

And no, Utah Mormons and not more "honest" than the rest of the nation. I resent this every time I hear it. Someone taking the time to fill out a survey is going to answer exactly how they feel.

Santa Monica, CA

This report most likely came out a few days after the 54-10 smackdown of BYU by Utah. Just the number of people who fled the LES mid third quarter--pulling at their hair and placing their hands over their ears would be enough to jump the statewide total up a couple of percentage points. The state of Utah is probably closer to 4.2 now that a few weeks have gone by.

Kearns, UT

Making light of serious conditions doesn't ease the situation. If that many people have suicidal thoughts, there is a problem. I see many attitudes expressed on these boards that could be contributing factors to people feeling so out of hope that they would consider suicide.

Homosexuality or SSA, immigration, alcohol consumption, politics, debt, medical care, unemployment, religion, and even football. So many mock and ridicule the other side. "If Mr. Jones doesn't live up to my standards, he should just pack up his bags and move." "It's the Smith's fault they moved into a home they can't afford, now they should pay the consequences." "I don't want anybody to shove their lifestyle in my face all the time."

Have you ever said any comments like those? If so, perhaps you are contributing to your neighbor's suicidal thoughts.

Casa Grande, AZ

Mormon Culture departing from LDS scripture is something to consider. From a Bof Mormon point of view, it's a common occurance for people to focus on thier image rather than thier hearts. Teen Pregnancy, divorce, bankruptcy and now suicidal thoughts are all things Utah and it's culture rank highly in.

I'm LDS, a liberal LDS and I don't see any problem with that. But even in Arizona it is. I'm probably much more conservative than a Canadian member or a Spanish member but here I'd be shunned if I spouted off overtly liberal politics like conservatives feel free to do in meetings. Universal healthcare - heaven forbid.

My solalce is that the scriptures are VERY liberal anyway. I can quote them all I want in church but the conservatives quote Glen Beck. Church leaders have been members of the the John Birch society in the past, a terrible organization and I still hear it's influence echoing in personal opinions during preisthood meetings.

Do as Kami suggested and move away from the dogma and culture to the light of the gospel. Utah wasn't always like this.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT


You stated, "I believe that most of the posters here who say the survey is flawed would probably be less critical if the survey had shown a low percentage of people with suicidal thoughts."

This is a fallacy in reasoning. Saying "You only accept data that fits your preconceived idea" supposes religious arguments as a refusal of truth. This is illogical. Denying how information is interpreted is not denying information, but how others use it.

If Joseph Smith saw God, and a scientist says 'but my evidence isn't compatible with your claim, which makes you ignorant', the scientist's argument would be wrong. The religious person isn't automatically saying that credible information isn't present, but perhaps incomplete. I don't claim anything against data, just that their data doesn't negate my own data (experiences).

Survey 1 million roses. All are red. Fine, but that doesn't negate my seeing a white rose.

I know my experiences with more Utahn's than most survey's interact with. My brain analyzes more than simple questions. I can potentially be FAR more right or wrong than surveys. Data and analysis often miss 'grounded' or 'down to earth' information that REAL human interaction rarely misses.

Lehi, UT

True story, when i was a teen , a took one of these surveys and said I'd thought about suicide, becuase I seriously thought about it in the philosophical sense: is it a selfish act, is it stupid, would I be able to pull the trigger, etc. I was happy and would never do the evil cowardly deed, but I had seriously thought about it......my teen stupidity perhaps skewed previous studies on Utah, but we all know these things can't really be accurate anyway. ONe study finds Utah the happiest, one the most depressed, one says lack of Vitamin D is High in UT and causes depression, one says altitude is related.....Mormons in general commit suicide at much lower rates than most Americans, can't blame it on them anymore..

Provo, UT

The survey shows that All Is Not well In Zion!

Kyle loves BYU/Jazz
Provo, UT

There is a culture of comparison in Utah. We need to help people feel less pressure to be perfect and more love for who they are. Life is hard enough when you aren't constantly worried about being good enough.

It is important to note that the attempted suicide rates are the national average. That means we probably do a better job of helping those who have suicidal thoughts.


Kyle loves BYU/Jazz: I know of very few cases of this 'perfection plague' that people seem to think is in the air. From within the LDS Church membership- most people who I know don't expect perfection, but expect people to try to do what's right.

I can expect that all I want and I am not wrong for doing so. I expect everyone to do the right thing. Just because we all slip or fall on certain issues does not negate this expectation. How I treat them afterward is important, and I believe that family and religious leaders may certainly make it clear that they did do wrong, but kindly encourage better choices and help people reach those goals.

"More love for who they are" is simply loving thy neighbor as thyself. If you are implying, 'loving them anyway, despite their wrongdoings' then again I would clarify... Most people I know DO in fact love their children despite their children's mistakes. But loving someone also does not require loving their actions.

Everyone has free agency. While I disagree about this supposed 'culture of comparison'... it is irrelevant when only you choose which 'culture' you accept and practice.

Durham, NC

Is anyone surprised that in a area where "perfection" is the goal, that some would feel that they can not meet these expectations. It is not totally unique to the LDS faith, but when you have such a concentration of those who care the name "Saint" as part of their title, is there any wonder you would get result like this.

The good news is over 90 percent seem to be able to deal with the issue.... which is also a very positive when the bar has been set so high.

It isn't a critique of the faith, just the result of an all or nothing culture.

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