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'We need you': Utah Gov. Cox pleads for Utahns to do more to prevent suicide

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at his monthly news conference at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday. Cox opened his monthly news conference with a passionate plea to Utahns, especially as kids gear up to go back to school: Do more to prevent suicide in the state of Utah.

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at his monthly news conference at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday. Cox opened his monthly news conference with a passionate plea to Utahns, especially as kids gear up to go back to school: Do more to prevent suicide in the state of Utah. (Rick Egan)



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox opened his monthly PBS Utah news conference on Thursday with a passionate plea to Utahns, especially as kids gear up to go back to school.

Do more to prevent suicide in the state of Utah. Pay attention to your loved ones and do more to help them if they're struggling.

And if you yourself are suffering from anxiety, depression or thoughts of suicide, "I beg you," Cox said. "Please stay."

"We need you. We need you here in our state. You are so important."

Cox said suicide prevention was top of mind for him after "we lost a friend yesterday, someone who died by suicide unexpectedly and tragically. And, sadly, we have far too much of that in our state."

Utah ranks in the top 10 states in the nation with the highest suicide rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While suicide is the second leading cause of death among American teenagers, in Utah it's No. 1.

Cox didn't name the friend that lost his or her life, but the governor on Wednesday retweeted a GoFundMe* page for John English, a familiar face in Utah political circles.

"John English was a loving husband, loving father, and wonderful friend. Whether you knew him online or in person, he was the type of man who always made you feel loved and understood. He had communities of friends because of his passions for the Utah Jazz, movies, the outdoors, politics, and more. He was deeply devoted to his family, and their loss is immeasurable," the page states.

Cox has spoken openly about his own struggles with suicide ideation as a teenager. In 2018, he published an online essay titled "Let's Talk About Suicide" after he decided to talk about his own struggles at a community suicide prevention meeting in Tremonton.

He urged anyone who is suffering to know "you're certainly not alone if you're feeling those things."

"You are not broken. There is nothing unfixable about you," he said. "We need you, and we need you here, so please, please reach out and get help."

He urged Utahns to download the SafeUT app, to help connect Utahns with licensed counselors through a crisis chat and tip line. He also urged anyone who is struggling to call 988, the new three-digit national suicide hotline that went live last month.

"We have more resources than ever before," Cox said. "Please talk to a friend, a family member, a counselor, a coworker, anyone. Just talking about it, we know, has the ability to reduce the chances of an attempted suicide."

Cox also urged Utahns to pay close attention to their friends and family members, and take action if they notice anything off.

"Do something very simple. Just ask a simple question. Ask, 'Have you thought about suicide? And if so, have you thought about it recently?'" Cox said. "Now I know that's kind of a scary question to ask. And sometimes we think that if we talk about it, it may put ideas in someone's head. But the research is very clear that that is not true."

In fact, Cox said "the opposite is true, that just by bringing it up, just by talking about it," that lets that person know you're there to help, even if they might not be ready to have that conversation yet. "And when they're ready, they will talk to you."

If they say yes, Cox said "you don't have to have all the answers," but he recommended Utahns take QPR training, which stands for "question, persuade, and refer," three steps to help save a life from suicide.

"If we will all do that today, tomorrow, throughout this year," Cox said, pointing to 988, the SafeUT app and QPR training, "I know we can save more lives and we can do better here in the state of Utah."

Suicide prevention resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline./p>

Crisis Hotlines

  • Huntsman Mental Health Institute Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
  • SafeUT Crisis Line: 833-372-3388
  • 988 Suicide and Crisis LifeLine at 988
  • Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386

Online resources

*KSL.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Katie McKellar

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