Report: Little Change During Pandemic Still High Suicide And Overdose Deaths In Utah | News, Sports, Jobs

SARAH WELLIVER / Examiner-Standard

NUHOPE hosted its 10th Annual Suicide Awareness Walk in Northern Utah on Saturday September 23, 2017 in downtown Ogden.

SALT LAKE CITY – New data released by the Utah Department of Health shows that the number of suicides and overdose deaths in Utah has not increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, although it continues to be a serious problem statewide.

The report, released Thursday by the UDOH and the Suicide Prevention Coalition, shows that although the nation overall shows an increase in suicide and drug overdoses since the start of the pandemic, Utah has not seen any change between March 2020 and June of this year.

” It is not finished. We are still in the midst of a pandemic and things can still change, ”said Michael Staley, Suicide Prevention Research Coordinator at UDOH. “Utah’s rates were high at the start of this pandemic and while they haven’t increased, they remain constant. One death is one too many. The work of suicide prevention will never be finished until we reach zero.

Each year, approximately 640 Utahns commit suicide and 6,500 are treated in hospital emergency rooms. Key findings from the report show that the number of Utahns who died by suicide has remained statistically unchanged since January 2015, with no change in suicides for any age group. Additionally, the overall trend in the number of Utahns who went to the emergency room after a suicide attempt or for suicidal thoughts did not change between January 2020 and August of this year. The number of Utahns who died from accidental or indeterminate drug overdoses from March 2020 to the end of May 2021 has remained consistent with the number of deaths in previous years.

“There is no doubt that the pandemic has put additional pressure on individuals, families and communities. But the point is, the vast majority of people deal effectively with crises, serious mental illnesses, and extremely difficult circumstances. The typical response to multiple stressors and crises is resilience and recovery, and we are seeing that in our data so far, ”said Staley.

Image provided, Utah Department of Health and Utah Department of Human Services

This graph presented as part of the 2021 Utah Suicides and Overdoses Report shows the number of suicide deaths per month from 2018 to 2021.

The Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition has also released its Utah Suicide Prevention State Plan for 2022-2026. The plan includes measures to address the problem. Interventions are outlined in the new plan, which was developed by suicide prevention professionals, researchers, healthcare workers, LGBTQ + advocates, survivors, family members and others affected. by suicide. It is an important tool to guide prevention work and policies across the state in the years to come.

Allison Foust, a suicide prevention program administered with the Utah Department of Social Services and co-chair of the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition, said prevention works, treatment works, and people can recover from thoughts, suicidal feelings and behaviors, but it’s essential for people around them to watch for signs and ask simple questions.

“Overdose and suicide are two major problems in our state and our nation and they are largely preventable,” Foust said. “There is a lot of information outlined in this plan, including reducing the stigma around mental and behavioral health issues, teaching coping skills to youth and adults, and supporting people. “

Foust said it is essential for the public to recognize and learn about the warning signs of suicide. These can include someone who says they want to fall asleep and never wake up; withdrawing from friends, family and activities previously enjoyed; sleeping too much or too little; mood changes; attach details and give things away; and saying that if “such and such happens”, they will kill themselves.

Getting timely care is essential for people with emotional, mental, or substance use issues. Ask for help for yourself or someone you love by calling 800-273-TALK (8255) or visiting Resources for those seeking help with substance use can be found at or

Image provided, Utah Department of Health and Utah Department of Human Services

This graph presented as part of the 2021 Utah Suicide and Overdose Report shows the number of drug overdose deaths by month from 2018 to 2021.

Copies of the data report are available at The Utah State Suicide Prevention Plan 2022-2026 is available at


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