In the early hours of Monday, Sept. 13, Moab City Police Officers responded to a report of a suicidal individual at Rotary Park. Officers arrived on scene, but were unable to prevent the person from injuring himself. Officers rendered aid until Grand County Emergency Medical Services arrived and assumed care of the patient, who was taken to Moab Regional Hospital.
Southeast Utah Health Department’s Suicide Prevention Specialist Amanda McIntosh said she was devastated to hear of the Sept. 13 incident. Just days before, officers had attended a suicide prevention training she led.
“I hope he is recovering well and gets the help he needs to see him through his crisis,” McIntosh said of the patient. “Statistics show that if people in a suicidal crisis get the help they need, the chances of them attempting again drastically decrease.”
September is National Suicide Awareness month, and Sept. 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. On that day, members of the Southeast Utah HOPE Squad, a suicide prevention group, held a walk at the Price Peace Gardens, in spite of the pouring rain.
According to 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control, Utah has the sixth-highest rate of suicide of the fifty states. In 2019, data from the Utah Public Health Indicator Based Information System showed that suicide was the leading cause of death for Utahns aged 10 to 17 and also for the 18 to 24 age group. Overall, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in Utah.
In 2019, the Utah Department of Human Services conducted a Prevention Needs Assessment of Utah students to study factors contributing to youth suicide. The survey found that 62.2% of Utah students in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12 were experiencing moderate depressive symptoms. In addition, 16.4% of Utah students felt “left out,” 15.3% felt that “people barely know me,” 15.3% felt isolated from others and 19.4% felt that “people are around me but not with me.”
In Grand County, health professionals and organizations have been working to improve mental health resources and remove the stigma associated with accessing that care. Moab Regional Hospital has expanded its mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, and as part of its upcoming expansion, will open a new building devoted to substance abuse treatment.
This summer, the hospital partnered with the Southeast Utah Health Department to host a workshop on suicide prevention [See “Learning how to help,” June 27 edition. -ed.].
The Hope Squad of Grand, Carbon, and Emery counties aims to prevent suicides through education and raising awareness. Four Corners Community Behavioral Health, which serves Grand, Emery and Carbon counties, offers mental health support for adults and children.
The SEUHD and the HOPE Squad have partnered with the Grand County School District to host a free “QPR” training for parents and community members on Sept. 21. QPR is a suicide prevention technique that stands for “question, persuade, refer,” meaning to ask questions, persuade the person to seek help, and know where to refer them. The hour-long training is at 6 p.m. at the Grand County High School.
In addition to the resources mentioned, McIntosh said there are several private-sector counselors in Grand County including Derrick Cook, who specializes in substance abuse, domestic violence, and couples, (435-210-1638 or email@example.com); and Jen Evers, who specializes in adolescents and adults (435-797-5104 or Jenifer.firstname.lastname@example.org).
These resources are available for anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts or with concerns about a friend or family member.
24/7 National Suicide Prevention Hotline
24/7 Huntman’s Crisis Line (connects with local resources)
Four Corners Community Behavioral Health
Moab Regional Hospital
Southeast Utah Health Department