SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The LDS Church launched a new "Preventing Suicide" webpage on Thursday to provide resources for those who struggle with thoughts of suicide and give assistance to their friends and families.
"Preventingsuicide.lds.org provides help and support for those who struggle with thoughts of suicide, know someone who does or have lost a loved one to suicide," said Eric Hawkins, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "The site also includes help and crisis line information. Every soul is precious to God and to the church and the loss of life to suicide is heartbreaking."
The launch of the webpage on the faith's official website, lds.org, also signaled that senior LDS Church leaders wanted to increase education about the issue and increase healthy dialogue.
"We invite youth, young adults, parents, friends and church leaders to join with others in our communities and take action to become informed on this subject," Hawkins said.
The release of preventingsuicide.lds.org coincided with several major awareness events designed to connect people to treatment and support services. Saturday is World Suicide Prevention Day, one day before the end of National Suicide Prevention Week. September is National Suicide Prevention Month.
Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States and the seventh leading cause among men and boys. Worse, it is the third leading cause of death among children 10 to 14 and second among those 15 to 34.
Utah made news this year because death by suicide became the No. 1 cause of death for children 10 to 17 in the state. In fact, the number of teen deaths by suicide in Utah doubled from less than 12 per 100,000 in 2011 to 24 per 100,000 in 2014. The increase was limited to that age group.
Another national concern is a rise in suicides among middle-aged men.
Utah state suicide prevention specialist Andrea Hood said the best methods of suicide prevention begin with welcoming and understanding families and communities.
Preventingsuicide.lds.org encourages discussion. "Research shows that talking to someone about suicide does not increase the likelihood of an attempt," the page states.
The church's webpage is divided into three sections. The first is for those in crisis. The second is for worried about or trying to help another. The third is for those who have lost someone.
Those in crisis are encouraged to call emergency medical services or a free helpline (numbers are provided) or to talk to a trusted person like a family member, friend, bishop or mental health professional.
For those not in immediate crisis, the site encourages them to consider talking to someone, creating a safety plan, setting small goals, finding a model of resilience and trusting Jesus Christ.
The site provides other resources, including relevant scriptures and talks by LDS leaders as well as a large number of links to medical resources like the Mayo Clinic guide to when to see a doctor and helpguide.org's pages on relaxation techniques for stress relief and how to help someone who is suicidal.
For those who have lost a loved one, there are resources like an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention webpage that provides practical information as well as opportunities to connect with other loss survivors.
The new webpage is the latest effort by the church to address important or difficult subjects at lds.org. For example, the church in recent years has published combatingpornography.lds.org, addictionrecovery.lds.org, mentalhealth.lds.org and mormonsandgays.org.
"To help its members and others who may be facing physical, emotional and mental challenges," Hawkins said, "the church develops resources to guide individuals and families and help them learn of the hope available through the gospel of Jesus Christ."
On Monday, KUED-TV, a public television station at the University of Utah, will broadcast a documentary film "Hope Lives: Preventing Teen Suicide" at 7 p.m.
The film tells the stories of three teens who attempted suicide — a promising young athlete who died by suicide after he wasn’t admitted to the colleges he wanted; a young man now in his late 20s who talks candidly about his suicide attempt as a teen and the relief he felt when he survived; and a young transgender teen who survived her suicide attempt, which reaffirmed her desire to live.
The show includes interviews with experts and a look at a prevention program at a Utah high school that has reduced suicide rates.