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Study: Utah No. 1 for happiness, 9th for suicide

By Shara Park | Posted - Apr 25th, 2011 @ 6:49pm



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Suicide is preventable, but it takes a community, friends and family getting in there and being brave and talking about difficult things.

–Doug Thomas


SALT LAKE CITY -- An intriguing new study suggests that some of the happiest states also have the highest suicide rates. Utah is no exception.

According to this new study, Utah ranks as the No. 1 state for residents' sense of well-being, but it also scored ninth overall in suicide rate. Three other states also have top 10 rankings in both categories - Nevada, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Researchers for this study suggest that living around people who are, on average, pretty satisfied with their lives can make those who are unsatisfied even more miserable. But they also caution against concluding that misery really does love company.

What to do if you think someone is suicidal
  • Trust your instincts that the person may be in trouble. Talk with the person about your concerns.
  • Be willing to listen. Allow expression of feelings. Accept the feelings.
  • Be non-judgmental. Do not debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or feelings are good or bad. Do not lecture on the value of life.
  • Get involved. Be available. Show interest and support.
  • Do not leave the person alone.
  • Do not agree to secrecy.
  • Do not dare the person to do it.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available.
  • Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
  • Get professional help, even if the person resists.
  • Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800- 273-TALK (8255)
Source: Utah Dept. of Health

According to the Utah Department of Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death in the state among men ages 10-44.

Doug Thomas, the assistant director of mental health and substance abuse for the state says, says when it comes to suicide in the state he's extremely concerned about the youth.

"Suicide is concerning at any age, but especially with our youth. We need them to see that there are a lot of options and they have a lot of things going for them. Sometimes they get pretty despondent, as well," he said.

According to the latest statistics from the Utah Department of Health, 80 percent of youth who commit suicide are male; 93 percent of suicides aged 13-21 were Caucasian, and 63 percent of completers had contact with the juvenile justice system.

Statistics also show that firearms are the most common method of death for youth suicides, and most youth complete suicide in their home.

"We want to continue to get the word out that this is a preventable thing," Thomas said. "Suicide is preventable, but it takes a community, friends and family getting in there and being brave and talking about difficult things that are happening with the people that they love."

E-mail: spark@ksl.com

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