Salt Lake City, Utah- (ABC4 Utah) – Hundreds of Utahns die every year from suicide. It devastates families from all walks of life, but some are at higher risk than others.
That’s why some are working tirelessly to help those who are struggling find hope.
Suicide is the number one cause of death among youth here in Utah, the LGBTQ community is especially at risk.
Organizers of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are hoping to change that.
For the first time the group’s annual conference is being hosted in Utah, with a focus on the LGBTQ community.
“We want people to understand the high prevalence of suicide in the LGBTQ population, and we want to give them the tools to intervene effectively, to reach out and to support their LGBTQ friends, family and neighbors,” said Board Member Corbin Standley.
That message is going out to social workers, therapists, educators and more in attendance. People who could potentially be on the front lines.
The training includes a video of a young man, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and gay.
Troy Williams, with Equality Utah knows that struggle first hand.
“You do face the fear of being exiled from your family, from your faith community, from your broader community,” said Williams.
He says Utah’s historic anti-discrimination law, marriage equality and a new law passed this year to overturn the “No Promo Homo” law are good steps.
“I believe, sincerely that young LGBTQ Utahns are seeing, at least in Salt Lake City proper there’s a place for them to call home,” said Williams.
But, there is more to be done to address the issue within the LGBTQ community, and beyond. In 2015, 630 Utahns committed suicide.
Representative Steve Eliason has taken a personal interest. He has passed a number of suicide prevention bills.
This year, one of his bills secured more funding for the Safe UT App, which gives students instant access to a counselor.
Another bill created a position within the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner. That person will work with families who lost a loved one to gather information on the underlying causes of suicide.
“We don’t exactly know what the data will show us, but we’re looking forward to seeing how we can better use the data to help people in need,” said Eliason, (R) District 45.
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, and Utah Representative Chris Stewart are currently working on a nation wide, three digit crisis hot line.
In the meantime, the following resources are available for anyone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts, or anyone who knows someone who is.
State Crisis Intervention Line: 801-587-3000
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)