Community leaders gather to ‘Start the Conversation’ on youth suicide in Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY — City leaders and health care specialists came together Saturday to open up a dialogue and discuss the issue of youth suicide in Utah.

The event, called “Start the Conversation,” focused on the prevention of youth suicide and the underlying causes behind Utah’s large suicide rate.

Officials with the City of Salt Lake said that reports show suicide is the leading death of children ages 11 to 17 in Utah. That number is nearly three times the national average.

Start the Conversation is part of Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s effort, along with the Youth City Government, to address violence by firearms, and violence in schools.

“With our kids in the crosshairs of an epidemic of suicide and gun violence, it is our moral obligation to equip families with resources to help keep the next generation safe,” said Biskupski. “By dialoguing around suicide, we can help remove the stigma which often surrounds the issue, bringing light to darkness and hopefully saving lives.”

The City of Salt Lake said that death by firearms is the most common type of suicide in Utah’s youth.

“In 2017 about 44 youth, ages 10-17, died by suicide,” the city wrote in a press release. “More than half of the youth suicides were attributed to the use of firearms.”

For more information on suicide prevention, click here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, help is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-TALK. Utahns can also visit Hope4Utah and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center for additional resources. You can also download the SafeUT app for instant, confidential crisis services. In an emergency, dial 911.