- County commission would like to sponsor a suicide education and prevention event
By Myrna Trauntvein
Suicide is a major public health concern in the state and in Juab County and, for that reason, commissioners want to sponsor an education prevention event for county residents.
Chet Ludlow, suicide prevention specialist at the Central Utah Counseling Center (CUCC), met with Juab County Commissioners on Tuesday.
A meeting was set for June, Mental Health Awareness Month, to which the public will be invited and which will be sponsored by the commission. It was decided that the meeting would be held on June 14 at 6 p.m. in the county building. The meeting area will be determined later.
"I could arrange for three breakout sessions," said Ludlow. "Each session would last 15 to 20 minutes, and I could arrange for high quality speakers."
After hearing a presentation by Ludlow, said Clinton Painter, commissioner, he had wanted him to make that presentation to the commission.
Painter said that he had wondered about passing a resolution and sponsoring a suicide prevention day.
"I am a team leader and suicide prevention specialist for six counties," said Ludlow.
There were six suicide deaths in the Nephi area last year and an additional five deaths resulting from substance abuse. Substance abuse deaths may be suicide or may not be. That is only known for certainty if there is a note.
"Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in Utah," said Ludlow. "Utah is ranked the fifth of all states for suicide deaths."
He became interested in the field of prevention when his friend in high school took his own life.
"I was probably the last person to talk to him," said Ludlow.
The latest suicide death he worked with occurred recently in Nephi by Wendy's. The person who died is one that Ludlow had worked to help.
"Most of the people who die by suicide do not want to cease to exist they want to stop the pain," he said.
Ludlow said that there is a CUCC after hours emergency phone number—1-877-4MY-CUCC (469-2822)—that those who need help can call. The Suicide Prevention Life Line—1-800-273-8255—may be called at any time.
The next Community Night Out will be in April. Those evenings were growing in numbers of participants and were providing education on a variety of important topics.
Education is one of the keys to preventing suicide. One is through the Community Night Out events, another is the HOPE squad in the schools and still another is just opening the dialogue.
In Utah, there were 559 deaths by suicide in 2016. Nationally there were 42,773.
"We have to remove the stigma of talking about suicide," said Ludlow.
Education and having someone to talk to are both things that can be done. For that reason, a 24-hour hot line has been established. There has been a 1 to 2 percent increase in the number of suicide deaths each year.
The rate per 100,000 for the nation was 12.93 percent and in Utah that percent was higher at 20.57.
In Utah, suicide is the third leading cause of death for ages 10 to 14; it is the second leading cause of death for ages 15 to 44; it is the fourth leading cause of death for ages 45 to 54; it is the sixth leading cause of death for ages 55 to 64; the 16th leading cause of death for ages 65 and older.
"Our Utah society puts a lot of pressure on people to be perfect," said Rick Carlton, commission chairman.
"The white male has the highest rate of suicide," said Ludlow.
More women attempt suicide but more men die. That is because the men choose a more lethal method. That method usually involves guns.
When it comes to suicide death in the US, men account for 78 percent of all suicides. The popularity of the methods used also varies a little between the sexes. For men firearms are by far the most popular, followed by suffocation/hanging and poisoning, women have poisoning as their most popular method, followed by firearms then suffocation/hanging.
Given firearms are the most reliable method, and drug poisoning one of the least successful, that may account for some of the difference in actual suicide rates between the sexes. It is also interesting to note that women have 45 percent more non-fatal self-harm incidences than men.
"We're not trying to take away people's guns," he said.
He actually believes in the right to bear arms, but thought that parents could prevent some suicides by locking up their guns and separating bullets from the guns and storing both in different locations.
Nine times as many people die by suicide in Utah annually than by homicide; the total deaths to suicide reflect a total of 13,185 years of potential life lost (YPLL) before age 65.
Suicide cost Utah a total of $629,958,000 of combined lifetime medical and work loss cost in 2016 or an average of $1,331,835 per suicide death.
If statistics were to consider the unknown numbers for those who died by car suicide, drug overdose or other method that would allow easy attribution, he said, the rate would double.
The question was asked if depression and mood disorders contribute to suicides.
Major depression is the most common mood disorder. This debilitating illness causes mental anguish and physical ailments. It often prevents normal daily function, said Byron Woodland, commissioner.
Ludlow said that depression, biological and environmental factors may contribute but also may not. He said that suicide was seldom attributed to a single cause.
"Suicide doesn't seem limited to a socioeconomic class," said Jared Eldridge, county attorney. "It cuts across all spectrums."