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Finding a solution to teen suicide

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

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USS Enterprise, UT

So far, everybody is missing the bigger picture. What this article describes is a doctor giving asprin to a patient with a brain tumor. Only the outward symptoms are being treated.

Yes bullying is a contributing factor, but what is going on that has made bullying more socially acceptable. Shouldn't that behaviour be such that if a parent found out that their child was engaged in it that the parents would stop it? Why are we allowing the government to defend our children from the evils of the world when we should be doing that ourselves? Since when is evil behavior acceptable?

Finally, ask yourself this. How can any government legislate changes to society?

Leesburg, VA

My dear RED Shirt

It takes a village!

Utah Dem
Ogden, UT

So Eliason wants to address this head-on and dump it on school districts. Some commenters suggest schools, churches, scouting programs, etc., should do more. But when will parents and families actually start paying attention to their children and getting involved with their own children?
And why do we need a law when a student talks about or attempts suicide, to inform the parents? And why do parents think a school district needs to cough-up money when their kids kills himself on school property?

USS Enterprise, UT

To "Baccus0902" yes it takes a village, but do you let the village idiot tell you what is good and what is bad?

Lindon, UT

This is not a "Utah" problem as much as it is a "Western United States" problem. Nine of the top 10 (Utah is number 10) are in Western States, with the highest rates being those with the lowest populations. South Dakota is in the top 10 and also has a small population.



Thank you. Yes, one suicide attempt increases the risk of another suicide attempt. However, fewer than 10 percent of people who survive even a nearly lethal suicide attempt go on to DIE by suicide thereafter.

In 2010, there were 25 suicide attempts for every one successful suicide.

People who have access to firearms are more likely to successfully commit suicide.

People who live in homes with guns are not more suicidal than people who live in homes without guns. They do not have higher rates of depression. They do not have higher rates of drug abuse. They do not have higher rates of any kind of mental illness nor do they even have higher rates of thinking about suicide or attempting suicide. What they do have is a much higher rate of dying in any given attempt.

Fewer than 10% of people who kill themselves with guns acquire the gun within a 2-4 week period before the death. Most of the guns used in firearm suicides are guns that have been in the home for a long, long time.

Mcallen, TX

Here in Texas, students do get stressed out with these tests. No joke! Lot's of pressure on them. These tests may have started here, but has gone federal, and forced on all states.

At least with religion, a person can move away from what the majority wants. With standardized testing,--there's no escape, and the majority would probably not miss it.

Cache county, USA

Who are more stressed, acheievrs, or lazy people.
That does make a difference also.
People with extreme high expectations, put lots of stress on themselves.

Filo Doughboy
Bakersfield, CA

Tragic. Tragic.

very concerned
Sandy, UT

There is a significant amount of medical literature documenting that statistically, religiousness *protects* against suicide and suicidal thoughts. I found this literature in PubMed, an excellent government-maintained database of academic medical journal articles. One could also search Psychinfo, a psychological database, but I myself do not have access to it. A similar search in Proquest Research Library: Social Sciences section, corroborates the results from PubMed. Pointing fingers at religion or any specific religion won't solve the problem.

Although I'm not in agreement with some of your writings and their implications, I do like your comment, * . . . 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.*

I too think suicide is so tragic that we would do well to lay aside our differences in order to positively influence teens and protect them from the underlying causes.


Dr. Stirling Hilton, Dept of Statistics, BYU, conducted a study which was published in The American Journal of Epidemiology, 2001 titled "Suicide Rates and Religious Commitment in Young Adult Males in Utah," which stated:

"In summary, active LDS males aged 15–34 years are at decreased risk of suicide compared with their Utah counterparts, both less active and non-LDS. In addition, active LDS males aged 20–34 years are at decreased risk of suicide compared with their US counterparts. We believe that the inverse association between high levels of religiosity and suicide is relatively unexplored, yet ecologic studies and our own research indicate that it is real. In fact, since individual data are used and our measure of religiosity is not self-reported, our findings represent stronger evidence than previously published research in support of the hypothesis that religious involvement is protective against suicide."


@Truthseeker --

You said: "Dr. Stirling Hilton, Dept of Statistics, BYU"

That's an interesting finding, although this particular study is a little bit like cancer studies performed by tobacco companies -- not something to take too seriously. Nonetheless, it's true that some studies have found a protective effect of belonging to a religious group.

HOWEVER -- this doesn't mean that religion itself is actually protecting anyone from anything. It could easily just mean that **belonging to any cohesive group** would provide the same protection. For instance, belonging to the Boy Scouts might be equally protective -- or any other group that provides a sense of belonging.

That would also help to explain why non-religious kids have a higher suicide rate in such a highly religious state as Utah -- because of their sense of ostracism. LDS people in particular seem very cohesive (I lived in SLC for several years -- I do have personal experience) and insular -- you're either one of them, or you're "other". And that sense of "otherness" can be agonizing for young people.

Notice I'm just speculating here. But it's a good idea to **think** about studies, not just swallow them whole.

Parsons, KS

Children do not kill themselves necessarily for the same reasons and same thought process as adults. Often adults plan their suicide for months at a time. It's easier to intervene in these cases, because their is time to realize what is going on, or hear their pleas for help and get them help.

Children, especially the younger they are, do not typically plan their deaths months ahead of time. Often it's one exact event that sets things in motion, and they react to that event by killing themselves. This appears to be one of those cases. These are incredibly difficult to stop because you don't have time. It sounds nice in theory to just lock up your gun thus a child won't get into it. But tweens and teens are not stupid, they know where the key is, they know how to get into the safe.

If you don't have a gun in your home, that leaves a child who wants to end it with alternates that are not apt to be as successful. in other words, you remove the gun, you remove the 100% chance a child that is wanting to end it, will succeed.



Agree. Dr, Hilton noted in his conclusion that more study is needed.

The study looked at the 551 suicides in Utah for males aged 15–34 years from 1991 to 1995. "Of these 551 suicides, 273 were linked to an LDS membership record by using the probabilistic linking program, and 56 were linked to an LDS record by church personnel; therefore, 329 (59.7 percent) linked to an LDS membership record." The researchers classified victims church activity rates using LDS priesthood ordination records.



Suicide by firearms has a very high rate of success. It is very risky, reckless and irresponsible to have unsecured guns in the home--and I myself wouldn't be confident that a young adult or teen couldn't figure out a way to gain access to a "secure" firearm. As a parent of 3 boys i made the calculation just to not have a gun in the house period. They could still enjoy outings with dad to a shooting range etc.

Last post.


@Truthseeker --

Yup, I actually read that study myself. I'm a whiz at Google. ;-)

What you posted doesn't contradict a single thing that I said in my previous comment. Once again, in short -- I agree with you that membership in a religious group appears to have a protective effect against suicide. However, that does not prove that religious **belief** or religion itself has any protective effect at all. It may well turn out that membership in **any** cohesive group would have the very same effect, including secular groups.

For the rest of my argument, refer to my earlier post.

The Caravan Moves On
Enid, OK

To: Shazandra, Bakersfield, CA
"Clearly Mormonism has not accomished the success its founders hoped for."

Back off, Shazandra!

Who said that Mormon youth are committing suicide in Utah at any rate higher than the national average?

In case you haven't noticed, or aren't willing to admit, Utah is no longer filled with 'just Mormons'. Utah, instead, has been literally over-run with people moving in from other states, many of which, in fact, came from YOUR state.

I try to be patient with naysayers and LDS-antagonists such as yourself but frankly, sometimes it's tough.

How long, Lord, how long?...

The Caravan Moves On
Enid, OK

@ Baccus0902, Leesburg, VA - My dear RED Shirt, It takes a village!

Dear 'Baccus0902' -


It takes a "family"!

Yes, a mom and a dad, MARRIED to each other and faithful to their marriage covenants to raise a child successfully.

A 'village'?



@Caravan --

You said: "Who said that Mormon youth are committing suicide in Utah at any rate higher than the national average?"

That study published by the BYU professor does, for one.

It says, in part: "the 95 percent confidence intervals for the relative risks of the less active LDS and nonmembers overlap for all age groups."

In English, this means that only the most active LDS members showed any protective effect from church membership. The "Eagle Scouts" of the LDS church, more or less. All other LDS church members showed the very same increased risk of suicide (Utah compared to the nation) as non-LDS members did.

And, again -- this only means that the most successful members of this large cohesive group showed the protective effect. You might see the very same effect if you studied Eagle Scouts, or highly successful members of any other cohesive group.

Sterling C. Hilton et al. Am. J. Epidemiol. (2002) 155 (5): 413-419.

Born that Way
Layton, UT

My religion kept me from killing myself. I'm grateful I had LDS leaders and more particularly God to answers my prayers and help me through some of the most confusing and difficult years of my life. I guess I was just lucky when looking over statistics, but then that's what most people say about miracles--you just got lucky.

very concerned
Sandy, UT

The following review of the literature (though not specific to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints) may be helpul in the observed protection given by religion against suicide. It reviews many other interesting studies and articles.

J Relig Health. 2009 Sep;48(3):332-41. doi: 10.1007/s10943-008-9181-2. Epub 2008 Jul 10.

Religion and suicide.

Gearing RE, Lizardi D.


Columbia University, School of Social Work, 1255 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027, USA. rg2372@columbia.edu

Abstract (or summary)

Religion impacts suicidality. One's degree of religiosity can potentially serve as a protective factor against suicidal behavior. To accurately assess risk of suicide, it is imperative to understand the role of religion in suicidality. PsycINFO and MEDLINE databases were searched for published articles on religion and suicide between 1980 and 2008. Epidemiological data on suicidality across four religions, and the influence of religion on suicidality are presented. Practice guidelines are presented for incorporating religiosity into suicide risk assessment. Suicide rates and risk and protective factors for suicide vary across religions. It is essential to assess for degree of religious commitment and involvement to accurately identify suicide risk.

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