As youth suicides soar, Utah creates 'Suicide Prevention Task Force'

As youth suicides soar, Utah creates 'Suicide Prevention Task Force' (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) - Youth suicide numbers soared in 2017 in Utah and state leaders are stepping up to bring those numbers down.

A powerhouse panel of state leaders came together at the Capitol Tuesday with plans of how they are going to help.

Governor Gary Herbert said they will be calling it the “Suicide Prevention Task Force” and including all ages.

He said through the last month research he's realized this is a problem in all age ranges.

For one teen we spoke with, she said having attempted suicide she's just happy to see people talking about this issue.

25 doves were released at the Capitol grounds, “Let's come together shoulder to shoulder. No credit no blame. But let’s find solutions and I expect that's what’s going to happen with this task force,” said Governor Herbert.

For every death by suicide, there are 25 others also making an attempt to take their own life.

Terrin Legerski was one of those teens, “I've attempted suicide three times actually.” Terrin said the hard thing about suicide is people don't understand the reason why. “We don't think about who we are affecting. I wouldn't consider it selfish, those parts of our brains are clouded by the fact that we don't want to live anymore,” she said. She herself has lost two friends to suicide. Terrin is now speaking out about suicide, bullying and the effects it can have on youth, in hopes to help others.

About a month ago Governor Gary Herbert named a task force to help with suicide prevention. “This is going to take the best thinking that we have, it is something that we cannot ignore,” he said.

The task force will have both short and long-term goals focusing on.

  • Improving crisis response
  • Reducing risk factors
  • Enhancing prevention work

In 2017, 44 kids ages 10 to 17 died by suicide according to the Utah Department of Health....increasing significantly from 2016. Terrin said kids knowing about resources could save lives, “To be able to talk to someone who doesn't know you or doesn't know your past or anything it would be kind of awesome to have someone with no judgment that would just talk to you and help you through it,Terrin said.

She said she's happy to see state leaders stepping up, “I think it's something that's very much needed.”

There's an app called the Safe UT people can download to text and chat with a crisis worker.

There's also the 24-hour, National suicide hotline, that number is 1-800-273-8255

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