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Finding a solution to teen suicide

Published: Sunday, Feb. 24 2013 5:40 p.m. MST

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Many lives could be saved if parents simply removed the guns from their homes. Guns are almost always lethal when used to commit suicide. Other means of committing suicide not as much. The majority of people who unsuccessfully attempt suicide the first time don't attempt suicide again.

Mcallen, TX

One cause could be standardized testing.

Salt Lake City, UT

I would like to see the statistics on suicide rates for teens in various categories. For example, those active in Scout troops, those active in Priesthood Quorums or church groups, etc. versus those who have no group affiliation to bolster self-esteem.

Far East USA, SC

"if parents simply removed the guns from their homes"

How about a gun safe instead? Or a trigger lock at a minimum. With gun ownership comes a responsibility. How refreshing would it be if gun owners were the first to condemn those who did not take proper precautions concerning guns.

No one under 18 should have unsupervised access to guns. LOCK up your guns.


"One cause could be standardized testing."

I thought we were supposed to stop blaming Bush.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

The church could do a LOT to help this.

Mcallen, TX

JoeBlow--try Ross Perot

Bakersfield, CA

Clearly Mormonism has not accomished the success its founders hoped for. Nor what many dedicated parents and social structures invest their lives in. This is no disparagement on the many good things the religion offers, but it is well past time to seek better prevention. Don't sugar-coat it or look for a BSA salvation message.

Obviously there are many factors, but Utah has held the nation's highest suicide rates in all categories since the early '80's.

I hope and pray that Utah's leaders find solutions. You have my support. Two of my promising LDS cousins took their lives several years ago. No rhyme or reason, different sides of the family. One had a temple marriage, was abused by her RM husband, and fell into 3 other non-LDS marriages with a child from each. Shot herself at age 35. The other was an accomplished ER nurse, a loving and beautiful aunt, engaged to a wonderful RM, and had recently taken some medication for a newly diagnosed bi-polar condition. She uncharacteristically hung herself in the family garage.

No guns, no rationale; just tragedy.

Mcallen, TX

Shazandra--we don't live in a perfect world, and the church does not take away the freedom of choice. It is tragic.

Bakersfield, CA

I agree, BrentBot. It would be interesting to see if involvement in positive programs help keep this tragedy lower.

As a former Mormon, I know the hard work and dedicated effort of church and family that is invested in family life. But I have been shocked at the high LDS suicide rate in Utah for many years now. My large, extended LDS family live in Utah and Idaho, and many are in the medical field. Their reports of this epidemic are alarming, yet awareness has not lowered the problem significantly.

I would personally be interested in what the ratio of LDS:Evangelical suicides is. It may not be a factor, but my last 30 years as a born-again Christian has exposed me to a far happier, more secure group of both adults and teens. There is less pressure to suceed, perform or conform that is immediately evident when you exit intense, "active" LDS life.

I do not want to conjur up faux statistics or reasons. It is just a search to see if there any helpful programs or de-programming that might offer insights.

Cedar City, UT

Dear Truthseekeer, I must tell you that your statement "The majority of people who unsuccessfully attempt suicide the first time don't attempt suicide again", is Horrible inaccurate. In fact the opposite is true. If a person has tried once, the chances of a repeat attempt are increased dramatically. In fact, when teaching suicide prevention, it is taught that previous attempts are an increased risk factor.

Bakersfield, CA

I grew up in a happy and wonderful Mormon home. I know exactly what the church offers and I did not blame its teachings or its people per se, Bro Worf.

I also attended Ricks and BYU at the height of the drugged 60' and 70's. I know exactly what typical Mormon college kids struggled with. My campus Bishop took his own life in 1971, a gorgeous, generous man with a gorgeous, fabulous wife and kids. No one had a clue.

I also know the down-side of the over-achievers AND the under-achievers. I refuse to ignore facts and constantly look for blame away from any possible source. Save your lecture and let's pray and work together for solutions in our imperfect world until The Perfect returns. We all are on the same side in this, and to our benefit, we all know Jesus is/has the Only answers.

Layton, UT

I believe in order to be effective, suicide prevention programs can't just include the leaders, administrators or the teachers--or even parents, though they are often more clued in than school officials. I know of one young man who sought help from his high school administrators for bullying, and was treated as if he were Dylan Klebold, rather than getting him out of the situation, he was put back into the classroom where his peers continued to bully him until he struck a studen and was ousted from the school system.

This training MUST INCLUDE TEENS. More often than not, the ones struggling do so because administrators don't respond correctly to the situation. They blame the victims. They don't have the resources to separate or ammeliorate student relations, and in the end, they only breed distrust and a sense of despair in the kids seeking help.

Often those bullied feel they have no way out. Administration SHOULD know better, but they don't, and whatever weak attempts for help, didn't help.

PS. This has nothing to do with the LDS... that's just a troll.

Cache county, USA

I think the church should tackle this issue head on.
Btw. Taking guns away helps? Does that mean we take away cliffs, and knives, and cars, and rope, and pills?

Cache county, USA

I'm Mormon, and I'm active. I believe in Christ. I follow everything.
But, the self rightish folks in this church is WAY out of control.
Top to bottom, rich or poor, there are judgmental folks in every subset of this gospel.
The pressure kids feel is causing them to kill themselves.
Is this a sign of weakness, maybe.
But judging is nuts folks.
Seek humility.


A government survey published in 1989, called Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide, found that LGBT teens are four times more likely to try to kill themselves than straight teens. Another study, published in 2011 in the journal Pediatrics, found that they were five times more likely to attempt suicide. LGBT teens are also much more likely to suffer from school bullying -- and it is also known from these and other studies that the supportiveness of the family environment to these LGBT kids can have a strong effect on whether they try to kill themselves or not.

Is it any wonder, then, that a state which so widely condemns homosexuality should have such a high teen suicide rate?

Of course homosexuality is not by any means the only reason for kids to kill themselves. But it's an important factor, and it needs to be considered in any suicide-prevention efforts.

Don't condemn these kids. Love them.

Far East USA, SC

"JoeBlow--try Ross Perot"

Not unless you live in Texas. To get it on a national level, we need to look at NCLB.
And, were you making a joke? You think students commit suicide because of school tests?
All states have standardized tests. Hard to use that as a scapegoat for Utah's high suicide rate.

Maybe, just maybe it is the overbearing pressure that is thrust upon utah teens concerning Religion.

I understand how strongly many LDS feel about Religion. And I can understand the disappointment when a child chooses a different religious path (or no religious path at all).

I can also just imagine (and have seen some of it first hand) the pressure to conform Religiously.

One absolutely must look at the Religious pressure as a possible reason why Utah has higher than normal teen suicide rates.

Salt Lake City, UT

Everybody pretending that their life is perfect and then judging others is causing a gap in reality that is making life hard for those people struggling.

I encourage everyone to be more open, honest, and real. Stop pretending you are so cool and covering up your vulnerabilities. When you are real others can see that life is hard for everyone and they don't feel so bad.

Also, don't buy into the lies of the media that make you feel bad about yourself unless you buy their product or look a certain way. It's a lie.

We can all be the solution if we stop pretending to be better than others.

Say No to BO
Mapleton, UT

Suicide has always been among us.
We ought to get some independent data about any spike in the problem.
More importantly, we need to get some independent data about the effectiveness of these programs.
And perhaps most important of all, who seriously believes that our legislators and school administrators can fix he problem. Our "village" mentality has made us dependent on an ever-growing government, but we would be hard-pressed to find that their solutions to our social problems have actually worked.
Sometimes family and community are better than THE STATE.

Gainesville, VA

When my son started pulling his hair out (trichotillomania) we went to a child psychiatrist and he immediately wanted to drug my child with heavy duty drugs. He was only 10. This article says "We have a huge gaping hole in the center of our state where there are zero child psychiatrists." It's been my experience that a psychologist might be better suited to help our children then a psychiatrist that wants to prescribe drugs. With drugs their are always side effects - good and bad - and shouldn't be taken lightly especially when administering to children. I do give kuods to Mr. Hudnall for all he has done.

Leesburg, VA

@ amazondoc 9:33

Thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, as usual people don't want to talk about the elephant in the room.

I regret the immediate association of suicide with "mental illness". Sometimes the correlation exist some time it doesn't.

Many teenagers feel they are not up to the expectations of their parents or other significant people in their lives.

Many times teenagers (heterosexual & homosexual) live perfect "normal lives" until their heart gets broken. Sometimes they do not know how to reconcile a premature sexual encounter with nothing else than a mortal sin and family and church dissapointment.

Regardless the reason, suicide is regrettable and we as the community needs to attempt to find the Why? and have a good look at ourselves.

This subject is painful and doesn't matter what we say or do. When a suicide takes place we somehow feel we have failed and perhaps we have.

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