Last year, 44 youth ages ten to 17 died by suicide in Utah. Utah ranks fifth in the nation for suicides for youth ten to 17.
In order to address this challenge, the Zero Suicide Coalition in San Juan County has organized “Hope Walks” for local communities throughout the month of September.
The first Hope Walk took place in Monticello on September 7. Subsequent walks will occur in Monument Valley on September 14, in Blanding on September 21, and in Montezuma Creek on September 28. The events begin and end at the high school in each community beginning at 1:30 p.m.
The walks are designed to help bring awareness, prevention, and general knowledge to the communities. There are free T-shirts, promotional items, and awareness information for participants and spectators.
The walks are held in coordination with the local Hope Week at each high school in the San Juan School District. The high schools have created “Hope Squads” in the schools.
The Hope Squad includes students from the school who are recommended by their peers. They host a variety of outreach efforts and events throughout the school year.
Suicide is a challenge in Utah, regardless of the age group. Every year in Utah, an average of 4,000 individuals attempt suicide and 500 individuals die by suicide.
In fact, Utah has the highest prevalence of suicidal thoughts among adults in the country, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control.