SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – September is National Suicide Prevention Month, a time to inform and engage health professionals and the general public about suicide prevention and the warning signs of suicide. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or background. In fact, advocates say suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.

Here at home, Utah consistently ranks in the top 10 states for the highest suicide rates in the country. According to the latest data in 2019 from the Utah Department of Health, suicide is the number one cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24. It’s the second leading cause of death for ages 25 to 44 and the fifth leading cause of death for ages 45-64.

The Utah suicide rate has been consistently higher than the national rate. In 2018, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that the national suicide rate was 14.78 for every 100,000 people. In Utah, the rate is 22.13 for every 100,000 people. However, experts say suicide deaths are only part of the problem. More people are hospitalized or treated in emergency rooms for suicide attempts than those who are fatally injured. In 2019, approximately 70 Utahns were treated for self-inflicted injuries every day.

Robby Borders, founder of “Smile, You are Beautiful” joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion. He talked about his disabilities, what inspired him to keep going during difficult times when he was bullied and depressed, the idea behind “Smile, You are Beautiful,” what he did on Suicide Prevention Day last Friday, his favorite moments when holding signs on the street, and what he thinks we can all do on an individual level to help prevent suicide in our community.

Taryn Hiatt, area director for Utah and Nevada for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Benée Larsen, Prevention by Design director for the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) Utah discussed the data on suicide, the multiple causes of suicide, warning signs, tips on what to do if someone says they are contemplating suicide, and advice on what to do if they are worried someone is considering suicide.

In part two of their conversation, Hiatt and Larsen explained how crucial language is when we talk about suicide, how we can support a survivor of suicide loss, resources that are available for someone who is struggling, the new suicide prevention lifeline that is going live July 2022, and NAMI Utah’s annual mental health conference.

If you or someone you know is in need of help or support, there are resources available:

NAMI Utah will be hosting its annual mental health conference on September 30, which offers resources, education, and connections for anyone interested in learning about mental health, advocacy, the organization, and more. The event will be held inside the Miller Business Resource Center at the Larry H. Miller Campus at Salt Lake Community College in Sandy beginning at 8 a.m. Student registration is $35, NAMI member registration is $45, general registration is $60, and professional registration with ECUs is $75. To learn more or register, visit this link.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Borders, Hiatt, and Larsen, click on the video at the top of the article.

Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.

Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning journalist who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as the anchor for the CW30 News at 7 p.m. Although she’s not out in the field anymore, she is continuing her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.