State health officials recently reported an alarming increase in rates of suicide among teenagers in Utah, to the point that it is now the leading cause of death among children 10 to 17. The exact reasons for the increase are not entirely clear, but there is a great deal of informed speculation taking place about what is clearly a community problem of tragic proportions. We are seeing a growing level of public awareness as well as a willingness to discuss the issue openly and candidly and move toward finding solutions.
This is healthy and positive, particularly in the category of suicide rates among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Statistics would indicate that LGBT teens are four times more likely to engage in suicidal behavior, and potentially less likely to seek help. Various organizations are working to better understand the problem and identify ways to take action, including a new program called Operation Safety Net, which deserves credit for furthering a community dialogue about an issue that is highly sensitive and often difficult to speak of in policy circles, as well as in family settings. Read more