New study shows Utah teens struggling with mental health

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SALT LAKE CITY – A sobering study from the Utah Department of Health finds 1 in 4 teens have seriously considered suicide in some parts of the state.

Erin Alberty, a Salt Lake Tribune reporter, spoke to health leaders about the numbers.

Twenty-seven percent of Utah teens in sixth through 12th grade reported feeling sad or hopeless and couldn’t do some of their usual activities. That’s up from 21 percent in 2013.

In rural counties, such as Duchesne and Daggett, nearly 1 in 4 teens seriously considered suicide in 2017. In 2016, 1 in 7 reported making a suicide plan and 1 in 13 attempted suicide.

"Girls in a lot of these categories accounted for the big chunk of the increase that we saw overall," Alberty said.

The study shows girls are impacted more than boys. Research suggests social media – and cyberbullying via social media – can have a correlation with depression.

"It's not just as school, which is isolating enough, but it's when you come home. It's into the night," Alberty said.

DeAnn Kettenring, the Utah PTA Health Commissioner, said kids are facing overwhelming problems. The Parent Teacher Association is concerned about Utah’s high suicide rate – fifth in the nation.

"If you think your kid isn't dealing with it, you're probably most likely wrong," Kettenring said.

They believe talks should start in the home. Parents can get some guidance at the “Fortifying Families Conference” on Tuesday, October 16. Parents can hear from educators, law enforcement and community advocates.

"We need to learn what are the risk factors. What are the protective factors," Kettenring said. "What can we do at home, and that's what they will get with this conference."

Find more info on the Fortifies Family Conference here, and read the Salt Lake Tribune article by Erin Alberty here.

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