Preventing Teen Suicide, a Priority with Utah’s Community Leaders

Preventing Teen Suicide, a Priority with Utah’s Community Leaders

Task force gives recommendations to enhance the state’s teen suicide prevention efforts

News Release

For those seeking help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also provides suicide prevention resources at

During a gathering at the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday, February 20, 2018, Governor Gary R. Herbert thanked community task force members for their recommendations to enhance the state’s teen suicide prevention efforts.


In a memo from the co-chairs of the governor’s Teen Suicide Prevention Task Force, Lt. Governor Spencer Cox and State Representative Steve Eliason highlighted a handful of effective programs that focus on improving crisis response, reducing risk factors and increasing protective factors. The governor said he will review the task force's work, and he will forward final recommendations to state lawmakers for legislative consideration.

Working on a deadline, the task force met over the course of a month to study and evaluate programs and to look for efforts that could support Utah’s teens.

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepted the governor’s invitation to participate on the task force.

“It’s important that we all lead together,” said Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Presidency of the Seventy. “It’s not just responding to the crisis — it’s how do we work with youth and how do we strengthen youth in the long term?”

The governor commended the community for being willing to come together to save lives. “Let's come together shoulder to shoulder, no credit, no blame, but let's find solutions.”

Teen suicide rates across the United States have been on the rise, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strong communities can serve as a preventative factor.

Tuesday’s event culminated with Taryn Aiken Hiatt, area director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, leading a dove release on the steps of the capitol as a symbol of hope.

“This is a huge, huge step forward in the right direction for us as the state of Utah,” Hiatt said. “While there have been many, many valiant warriors fighting this fight for years, we need the momentum and to capitalize on this now. There is so much work to do. But it starts with each one of us. Suicide prevention is everyone's business — mothers, fathers, teachers, doctors, clergy, family and friends. We need to learn and recognize and understand the warning signs the same way we do for heart attack and stroke.”

Rep. Eliason discussed specific resources available to those in need of help, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and the SafeUT smartphone app where teens can access crisis counseling via text, chat or call and they can submit confidential tips to authorities.

“No one wants to end their life. They want to end the pain, and we can't end the pain if we don't talk about the pain,” said Lt. Governor Cox. “There are messages that need to be shared. There are conversations that need to be had. We need to remove the stigma that comes with mental health discussions, and especially the stigma that comes around discussions of suicide and suicide prevention.”

United States Senator Orrin G. Hatch was also in attendance at the event on Tuesday. He commended the task force’s work and the state’s initiative in addressing teen suicide. “There's no perfect solution, but there are a lot of things that we all can do to save lives,” said Sen. Hatch. “And one of the most important things is to remind these young people, these kids, how much they matter, how much we love them, how much they mean to all of us.”

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