CDC to release findings on youth suicides in Utah

ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News) - The findings of an investigation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on youth suicides in Utah will be released Thursday. 

The findings in CDC's report will include a list of recommendations to prevent further suicide deaths, and for those at the Washington County School District, they say the investigation couldn't be more timely.

"It's become the number one source of death for adolescents in Utah, and that is not okay with any of us," said Jared Buhanan- Decker a counselor at Dixie High School. 

Although Buhanan- Decker trained to help students in their education choices, he says suicide prevention is a job he can't avoid. 

"Help students with schedules one day and then in the same day will go and help a student that is in a dark place and is thinking about hurting themselves," said Jared Buhanan-Decker. 

The CDC's investigation is due to the Utah Department of Health's findings showing in just four years, the states youth suicide rate increased nearly 141 percent. 

"It's been that recent. Just this year we've seen an increase," said Sharla Campbell, Principal at Dixie High School. 

Those at The Washington County School District are closely involved in prevention efforts. They teach  Q-P-R - Question, Persuade, Refer, 

offer suicide prevention training to all faculty, and have a Hope Squad in all of their junior high's and high schools- students trained to help fellow students. 

"These are awesome kids who want to make a difference," said Buhanan-Decker at Dixie High School. 

One of those students is Tate Wilkinson, a junior who once contemplated taking his life. 

"I've had thoughts of suicide myself," said Wikinson. 

Wilkinson said people listening made the difference 

"They wanted me to be able to have a good life and wanted me to live it. So I want to provide for other people so they can have the same experience," said Wikinson. 

"I wish we had a solution to it that was universal," said Campbell. 

"I think the more of a light we shine on the subject, the better," Buhanan- Decker.

"The District plans to implement any other prevention recommendations the CDC recommends, because, they say, when it comes to tackling the issue - they'll do whatever it takes.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, there are resources available. 

You can call  the national suicide hotline at: 1-800-273-8255, or you can download the SAFEUT app where you can text or call a crisis counselor, or send an anonymous tip to help someone.   


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