Today, a report from the Utah Department of Health was released detailing the astronomical rise in youth suicides in our state, which rose more than 140 percent from 2011 to 2015. After calling in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help investigate this epidemic, the UDOH published this revealing report. While there is much to fear about rapidly growing cases of youth suicide in Utah, Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah released the following statements regarding the report:
“Given that only 40 percent of the cases included information on the youths’ sexual orientation and 15 percent of those identified as sexual minorities, I was pleased that the UDOH recognized the need to make sure that gathering this particular information is institutionalized to better understand the unique risks faced by LGBTQ youth. That gives us hope.”
“Secondly, the report names those protective factors that reduce the risk of suicide in young people, and it’s exactly what we know to be true. Inclusion. Acceptance. Love. That gives us hope.”
But these changes won’t come without our attention and action. In addition to collecting data about sexual identity, it’s paramount these agencies also focus on gender identity.
So, Equality Utah is dedicated to educating UDOH and others on the unique challenges faced by our trans siblings and friends and will work “even harder to create a culture that tells all young people that they belong. When all sectors of society, including schools, churches, government and families, foster a culture of deep belonging, it truly saves lives. This is the most powerful and impactful way we can reduce suicides in our state.”
“We will not stop our work until we achieve this objective. And we want to thank all community, church, business, school, elected and public officials who have proactively worked to advance inclusive policies that affirm LGBTQ youth,” writes Williams.