"A new study, The Happiest American States, reveals Utah, Hawaii, Wyoming,
Colorado and Minnesota top the list of happiest states in the nation, according
to LifeScience.com"I suppose Utahns are more inclined to be
either happy OR depressed, with fewer in the middle. Which are you?
So Utahn's are well above average in suicidal thoughts but right on average in
actual suicides. Sounds funky to me back to the drawing board. Or maybe more
Utahns were honest in their answers.Loved how the article really
sensationalized it especially with the picture that shows only Utah and not
Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado or Nevada for a better regional comparison.
This is disturbing. There is something in the culture here. The difference
between Utah and the rest of the country is dramatic.
People can either choose to be happy, or choose to be depressed and suicidal.
Circumstances may affect things, but in the end, only you can choose your mood.
Maybe this finding has more to do with Westerners being more willing to reveal
their feelings than those from the East or South. The suicide rate for Utah is
not statistically different than the national average but the rate of positive
response on suicidal thoughts is significantly higher. To me, that suggests
either a difference in being willing to take action on intent or a difference in
the way we answer questions with a social desirability angle.
I can only imagine how many comments will be posted blaming, referencing, or
simply hinting at blaming the LDS Church in some form or another.In
response I would mention an article published earlier this year, regarding Utah
being No. 1 in online porn subscriptions. The problem is that data if not
understood properly, can be twisted to suggest something not factual. A later
Deseret News article responded to this study by showing reasons such as a higher
interested in computers here, and other factors the study ignored.In
regards to the suicide data gathered, I would state two problems:1)
It could mean that more Utahn's answer honestly, and we're actually low in
comparison to other states. It could mean that Utahn's are more honest with
themselves in not denying it, yet others have just as much. It could mean lots
of things but I'll end here as my point is made.2) All statistics,
or data, is built off of inductive reasoning, which is only PROBABLE, not
provable. Surveying 1000 people in REALITY says nothing about everyone else.I make point 2 ALL the time, yet people still make claims with empty
logic promoting their agenda.
Like any survey or report, we would need to know a lot more about how the
information was gathered and compiled. What it says to me, however, is that
Uthans are far more honest than the average and more willing to seek help. These
are both good traits!
Well I cannot blame them for the way the State is run and all them liquir laws
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. I don't see why everyone assumes Utahn's are simply
being more honest. Let's consider the fact that young people in Utah commit
suicide at a higher rate than the average American youth. Also, Utah does have
a pretty high suicide rate in general, ranging up to 10% over the past few
years. Let's not live in denial to satisfy a self-image.
It doesn't matter how we compare to other states, if we are more honest in our
answers than others, or what the cause of such thoughts are--the reality is we
have a problem. Those numbers are way too high. Why aren't each one of us asking
questions about what we can do to decrease those numbers? For me, I think it
comes down to what I can do to be a better friend and neighbor. What can I do to
make others' burdens a little bit lighter? What can I do to make people feel
welcome and happy in this state? Am I able to do something to give a little bit
of hope to somebody who seems to have lost it? Are we going to stick
our heads in the ground and deny that there is a problem, or are we going to
step up and be a part of a solution?
There may be another factor here, such as the higher than average birth rate
could equal higher than average postpartum depression, and therefore higher than
average suicidal thoughts. I also suspect new mothers who have suicidal thoughts
are much less likely to act on those thoughts, hence the discrepancy of thoughts
vs actions. Having said this, LDS should not defensively dismiss
potential religious factors. Not saying we need more grace in our theology, but
we could use heavy doses of slowing down, lightening up, and ceasing to treat
the road to heaven as the pursuit of a competitive job promotion.
Johnson72 Oh yeah, liquor is the cure of all ills. Isn't alcohol said to be a
depressant? Maybe there are a lot of closet drinkers? You are funny
Wow, a poll that actually reads peoples minds! The results? Utah has far the
most serious mental health issue, worse than the rest of the nation, because of
thoughts?Ridiculous!I was not interviewed. Who was? Who
was behind this Poll? How large a sample? what was used to determine the sample?
Mental Health clients or the medicaid population? Was there an
underlying reason that the pollsters wanted Utah to look bad? Do the Pollsters
want to scare folks who might vote for Mitt, or John?This is Not
News, It is Propaganda, masquerading as news. How about the Deseret news find
out more information on this Poll, (How it was conducted, the demographic of
those polled in each State) And then report a real news story!I am
tired of the subtle Propaganda against my religious beliefs!
Im not dismissing potential religious factors. But I see no data in this study
on religious affiliation or practice. I would posit that the suicidal ideation
referredto in this study is, by and far, amongst non LDS and other persons
of faith. When oneis depressed seeing happy people often increases that
depression and, by and large, people of faith, especially Mormons, are a very
This is a beautiful state, lots of lovely scenery, fairly clean air, not so
crowded....But when an individual cannot walk their dog, or go to the gym
without being asked "if they are LDS and what ward do they live in",
it tends to get rather annoying, Don't think it sends one to the extremes
of suicide, but gives you an idea of how this place works.
advocate4U:Before you go off and call this study propaganda, you
should click on the link in the story and read the actual study which lays out
the researchers' methodology, assumptions, etc. This was a nationwide study, not
something directed at Utah or Mormons or Mitt Romney. Please calm down. Also,
statistics teaches us that a large diverse sample size can provide results
representative of the entire population, so the researchers don't need to
interview every person such as yourself in order understand the behavior of the
entire population.I grew up in Utah and hope to move back there
someday, but I must say that the results of the study are not necessarily
shocking to me. There is a tremendous amount of cultural pressure amongst Utah
Mormons. It doesn't come from the actual church, per se, but it part of the
culture of Utah Mormonism. It a pressure to constantly appear religiously
perfect, financially successfully, and physically beautiful. I am not saying
that these cultural pressures are definitely the cause for the higher percentage
of suicidal thoughts, but it is a hypothesis that should not be dismissed
Why are you bringing religion, especially a specific religion, into this? To all
the LDS out there, it's not always about you.
This study is also flawed as the region for the NW includes California,
according to the map. In the NW, where I live, depression is very, very high due
to the overcast skies, and suicides run rampant here.
Another thought: There is a certain "perfectionism" that is prevalent
in Utah that is not discernable in other states. Part of the issue
is that people need to learn how to relax, and not be so wound up. It's ok not
to be in frantic mode all the time, but to enjoy one's life along the way.
There are more Mormons per capita in Utah than any other state. That should give
some kind of clue. Membership CAN be daunting for some members.Just
ONE example (there are many others), gays who don't want their family, friends,
or ward members to know they are because of the church's stance on
homosexuality.What this tells me, if it's true that Utah Mormons are
skewing the state's stats, is that the church needs to be more aware of how its
members are feeling about their place in it.Just a thought. Not even
sure myself if there's truth to it. But thought I'd put it out there.Kinda does explain, though, why there's more thinking about it but not the
same percentage doing it (suicide), if you think about how Mormonism works for
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.
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.
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
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
Perhaps many of those that thought of suicide in other states were no longer
living to take the survey.
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.
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.
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.
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
Mr.Glass,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.
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
The survey shows that All Is Not well In Zion!
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
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.
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.
If we do take this survey at face value, here might be some contributing factors
that make Utah state unique:1- An above-average number of youth. I have 5
'religious' teens in my house, and despite their upbringing, still go through
the same emotional rollercoaster all teens do. More teens equals more
teen-related issues like thinking about suicide.2- Above-average cultural
teen expectations (push to succeed, be 'perfect' etc.) and walla you'll have a
few more stressed-out kids. At our own Davis High they push the kids VERY hard
to succeed.3- Having lived in other states like Florida I would say that
the non-Mormons in Utah tend to 'spin out' more than average with drugs,
alcohol, etc. It's like they want to jump to the far extreme away from the
Mormon 'clean' culture. But I am only guessing at why. Hence our high
substance-abuse rate like Meth, etc.
Two potential factors in Utah's statistics: genetics and topography.There is a relatively high percentage of Scandanavians in Utah, a population
that has a higher predisposition to alcoholism & related syndromes, such as
depression.Utah is also a relatively high-elevation state. There
are studies that correlate higher rates of suicide with higher elevations, with
reduced oxygen levels in the brain being a potential culprit. (People with
sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea also have higher rates of depression,
associated with lower blood oxygenation to the brain. Higher elevations
exacerbate breathing problems, obviously.)Certainly other factors to
be identfied, as well.
I'm not seeing many of the posters suggest that underlying mental illness is
probably a cause. Mental illness is more to blame for suicidal thinking than
affiliation with a certain religion. Religion helps people cope with the
difficulties of life and offers up hope to those without much. We also live in
difficult times economically which makes living difficult at best.
Why does depression ravage Utahns? Some of it may be genetics, e.g. Swedes, who
I think are prone to melancholia. Just one possibility.
I was in a neighboring state (I won't mention the name) for a weekend 5 years
ago and heard they have 1 in 8 kids take their life between middle school and
high school; I know this study may just be on adults, but this neighboring
state traced their problem to being isolated geographically which in turn
translates to other types of isolation. Life is complex; you can live in big
cities with it's crime, or live in rural areas (with less crime and less jobs)
where there is limited health care and limited resources. We need health care
for all---and it will be here soon (regardless of who is president).
Experts remind us that 87.92% of all statistics are made up on the spot.Remember that number, 92.4%. It's important any time you evaluate a
story containing a statistical report of any kind.
Yea, us non-mormons are just a bunch of losers. Taking drugs, drinking beer,
watching wrestling on the tube. We gorge ourselves on, junk food and alcohol,
party all the time, instead of going to work, get arrested for all kinds of
abuse every few months.Us mormons, we cause all the trouble throughout
every state. We just ruin everything we touch...just ask the neighbors.
I moved to Utah in the 1980s. It a wonderful place to live and work. Great
people, beautiful scenery. I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints as a young man in high school and have never regretted that decision. I
also went to BYU, the church-sponsored school and served a mission for the
church. But, as someone who occasionally counsels those who are suicidal, I can
say this... Peer pressure and societal attitudes, stereotypes, and stigmas
influence choices we make. I am a much happier Latter-day Saint, Mormon, or
whatever you want to call me *outside* of Utah. My wife and I have decided we
will not retire there when we finish my career that takes me everywhere but
Utah. And the reason for that is simple. We are stronger in our faith and more
peaceful in it, ironically, where we are in the minority. The "mission
field" is the place for us. If you're having thoughts of
suicide, don't listen to the voice of pressure, but find someone who loves you
and get help. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.
An interesting stat that negative people rarely talk about is that active
Mormons have very low suicide rates. So, we really can't blame the Mormons for
this one, as fun as it is. One thing I notice about Utah, and especially Salt
Lake and the Tribune, is there is so much negativity about the State, and
especially about Mormons, I think people who have to see the bad in everything
are depressing and are perhaps depressed.....don't know though, but I see it in
Several people have made some good points, altitude, vitamin D, negative
attitudes, high rates of teens, all make a difference. One thing from the
article that I never thought about is the fact that the elderly, over 85 I
think, in Utah were most likely to think they were "better off dead."
I'm curious about how these questions were asked. I know that, while we are a
young State, Utahans also tend to live longer than others.I'm
starting to wonder about study methods, since Utah is rated happiest and etc.
I had major thoughts about this. Then i left utah and it all went away. Maybe
its the water.
Perspective from a born and raised Utah Mormon. LDS leaders teach us stuff like
"Your eternal destiny will not be the result of chance but of choice. It is
never too late to begin to choose eternal life!" - from Oct. 2011 Gen.
Conf.You've studied LDS and other religions, including the
histories. But what if you do not believe in religion? You've lived your entire
life according to the teachings, but have never received key answers to
prayers... And all your family is active members and the majority of their talk
and family events focus on the church. Then there are questions about why your
boy is not going to scouts, etc. etc. And referring back to the quote I listed,
if you are not a believer or not doing all the church stuff, then you not
choosing the right... It can wear someone down.
There are significant reasons for Utah's extremes. We're also highest in
anti-depressant usage and pornography subscriptions. The simple truth is that
the broad culture of the state is one that does not work for a large number of
people, leaving them to feel outcast and alone. Conversely it does work for a
lot of people, causing them to feel elated and joyous. This leaves very little
room for the moderately tempered.
I agree with 10CC. Genetics influence the likelihood of developing mental
illness and people of Scandinavian descent have a higher incidence of mental
illness. Scandinavians are also more likely to develop certain other health
conditions that are often accompanied by depression, such as fibromyalgia,
rosacea, polymyalgia rheumatica, giant cell arteritis, vitamin D or B12
deficiency, and numerous others. You can check the statistics for Scandinavian
countries and find that they have higher suicide rates than the rest of Europe.
Utah was settled by a much higher proportion of Scandinavians than most other
states, so we are lucky that our rate of actual suicides is not the highest in
the country. Evidently, we are also rated as the happiest people and one Times
article by Maia Szalavitz suggests that being around happy people when we are
depressed makes us even more depressed because we are comparing ourselves too
much. I'm still thinking about that, but overall I would say it's genetics.
I think you have to look at the questions on any survey. The stats showed that
suicide rates were average, but that the thoughts on "Suicide" were
higher. As a statistician I look at the question leading to the findings. Here
is asked have you thought of hurting yourself or would you be better off dead. I
think most Mormons do think that they would be better off dead, but that they
wouldn't hurt themselves. If the survey asked do you have plans of hurting
yourself or have you thought of hurting yourself and not included the other part
that the numbers would have been average.
I certainly wouldn't want to suggest the obvious, but perhaps it has to do with
the fact that the state of Utah is 60% Mormon and the male kids find
difficulties with having to spend 2 years knocking on doors. Or maybe being
taught that they, mere humans, can become gods if they do enough good deeds, as
the works based religion of Mormonism teaches. Or maybe they can't swallow the
teaching that the planet or star Kolob is full of spirits waiting to enter the
bodies of newborns here on earth. Maybe they're having trouble reconciling the
idea that there are five (5) sacred texts: The "Book of Mormon"; the
"Doctrine and Covenants"; the "Pearl of Great Price"; the
"Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints"; and the Holy Bible. The first four (4) of those books don't jibe
with the Holy Bible. Christians believe there is only one (1) sacred text-tyhe
Holy Bible- so clearly, Mormons are not Christians in that belief. Just maybe
the Mormon religion is behind the problem.It is all so confusing and demanding
that one be a perfect boy or girl.