SALT LAKE CITY – Utah ranks 8th in the nation for youth suicide rates, according to Utah’s Department of Health, and it’s a problem the Utah Pride Center is trying to combat.
Feelings of isolation can take a toll on some members of the LGBTQ community, but the Utah Pride Center is offering them a safe place where they can work through suicidal thoughts.
There are some troubling statistics from the Utah Department of Health: From 2007-2014, youth suicide rates tripled. In 2014, suicide was the leading cause of death for Utah teens.
“There's a big myth that if we talk about suicide with someone that we're worried is thinking about it, is planting that idea,” said Jillian Hill, Survivors of Suicide Attempts Coordinator.
Survivors of Suicide Attempts Support Group is an 8-week program where LGBTQ teens can feel safe and get the help they need.
“One of the biggest things we do in the support group is share our personal experiences with thoughts of suicide and attempting suicide," Hill said. "So many people keep that bottled up and don't share it."
Bryce Bushman finds comfort in sharing his story with people he has met at SOSA.
“In the last few years, I've had three suicide attempts and I survived,” Bushman said.
As a gay man in the LDS Church, he said he felt alone.
“It's very isolating when the organizations you belong to officially don't recognize you, that you don't exist," he said.
Bushman credits SOSA for providing a safety net, and he encourages others to reach out.
“I can't make progress with the things I need to learn if I don't have a safe place to do that learning,” Bushman said.
The Utah Pride Center plans to provide more resources for the LGBTQ community with the help from the Utah Department of Health.
“The Health department gave us 100 gun locks so people who have access to firearms can make their homes safer for themselves and their children," Hill said. "We're giving those away for free."
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with suicidal thoughts, there are resources out there. See below for some of those resources:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Contact the support group Survivors of Suicide Attempts at SOSA@UtahPrideCenter.org or by phone at 385-831-0872.
The Trevor Lifeline is available for LGBT individuals in crisis at 866-488-7386.