Utah’s depression epidemic

More stories from Jake Sims


Suicide is the leading cause of for Utah teens. The youth suicide rate has tripled in Utah since 2007, jumping from three out of every 100,000 youth to 8.5, this increase is being seen no where else in the entire country. The leading cause of death for our youth in the rest of the country are car accidents. State health officials haven’t been able to find any clear causes of the state’s growing rate, but the health department is working to launch an in-depth study, said Andrea Hood, a suicide prevention coordinator at the Utah Department of Health.

Hood says that there are a few possible causes for this problem. She also says these are a lot more common in the rocky mountain area especially in Utah. One major theory states that because of Utah’s high altitude there is less oxygen in the air which contributes to depression.

Another theory says that since Utah kids move more often than kids in other states also contributes to the problem because they lose a lot of the social connections that they need. Also a mentality of self reliance can also contribute cause it can cause isolation.

A Lot of people attribute depression to the excessive use of social media in our youth. Psych Central says that

“Indirectly, social media applications act as the catalyst for destructive behaviors like comparison, cyberbullying, and approval-seeking. A side-effect of the way in which social media applications are designed is that users tend to showcase a highlight reel of their lives; posting all the positive and important moments and leaving out the negative and mundane. When a user observes these highlight reels from other people, they compare these portrayals to the worst parts of themselves, causing feelings of shame, irrelevance, and inferiority. These feelings can lead users to engage in destructive approval-seeking behaviors. Social media applications are also conducive to cyberbullying, where users can hide behind anonymity and remove themselves from the consequences of harassment. This harassment can have fatal consequences, and social media only makes it easier to engage in.”

“The data about mental illness and suicide in Utah is complex and any simplistic interpretations should be treated with caution,I can’t say that the LDS religion and culture are directly responsible for those types of statistics but I also think it would be silly to suggest they are completely unrelated.”

Ellen Degeneres said:

Suicide in Utah has increased 141 percent because of the shame they feel from the due to religion.”

In reference to LGBT youth. Those in the LGBT community are especially prone to attempt to take their lives. This has left people scrambling for answers, and someone to attach the blame too. That role plays in part to religions, which states homosexuality a serious sin. It may be a frequently said that the some religions conservative stance potentially has caused the rise in suicides in Utah, but proving it is another matter. Suicide research is difficult to conduct  because those who have committed suicide can’t speak for themselves.

The debate on the cause of depression in Utah goes on. Hopefully we can find the answer and the solution as soon as possible so we can provide people with the help that they need to get better and have a healthy and happy life. Utah is a beautiful state and we should strive to do whatever we can to make living here a good experience.