Teen Suicide in Utah

Claims

"[I]n Utah...suicide rates are surpassed...only by Minnesota among youth."
- C. D. Turbeville, ed., Current Trends & Updates 7(13), Third World Baptist Missions Network
- Dale Burden, ed., The Gist, Summer 2000, Kry: The Fundamental Voice for Free Will Baptists
- E. L. Bynum, ed., News & Views, 6/00, Tabernacle Baptist Church

"Teen suicide rate in Utah is 3.5% higher than national average, second to that of Minnesota."
- Frederick C. Kubicek , The Mormon Doctrine - Is It Christian?, Unlimited Glory Ministries

"MORMONS WON'T TELL YOU that the state of Utah...has a higher than the national average of...teenage suicide."
- Facts: Mormons Wont Tell You When They Call at Your Door, MacGregor Ministries

"Utah's teenage suicide rate exceeds the other states by a factor of nearly three."
- Jeff McCauley, My Three Weeks as a Mormon: Theological Errors of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Debunking the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

"The suicide rate...among Utah teenagers has consistently led the national average."
- Larry Hall, Stop Hurting My Children!, Sword of the Spirit Apologetics

"Social statistics from Utah...show that places where Mormonism is strongest have higher rates of...teen suicide...than the nation as a whole."
- James R. Spencer, Why I Love Mormons, but not Mormonism, Take a Stand! Ministries

"Their...youth suicide rates...are above the Western US average."
- John L. Smith, The Truth About Mormonism, The Ministry of John L. Smith

"While the number of teen suicides in America has tripled in the past decade, Utah has consistently been 3.5% higher than the national average."
- Mark A. Taylor, Sin & Death in Mormon Country: A Latter-day Tragedy, Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons

"Suicides among Utah children 10 to 14 increased 112 percent between 1980 and 1987...."
- Michael Cranford, Why Iím Not A Mormon, Sundoulos
- Rich Branch, Mormonism and the Family: How Much Is That Family In The Window?, The Watchman Expositor 6(10)

"Utah has one of the highest suicide rates in the nation (especially high among teenagers)."
- Derick S. Hartshorn, Bearing the Testimony of Truth, Saints Alive in Jesus

"...the actual rate of [teen] suicide in Utah remained much higher than the national average."
- Leslie Anderson, Statistics on Suicide, Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons

"[T]he Utah teenage suicide is 3 times the national average!"
- Annonymous, Bingís Mormonisms, Bingís Mormon Corner

"Teen suicide is growing."
- Waana, Reasons Why The Mormon Church Is Not True, posted on Recovery from Mormonism, 5/18/02


Is Utah's teen suicide rate higher than the natonal average?

Teen suicide appears to be a highly regional phenomenon. Most states in the West and Midwest, including all of the Rocky Mountain states, have rates higher than the national average.

Figure 1 shows the teen suicide rates for Utah, the western United States*, and the entire United States. Rates are the number of suicides per 100,000 residents ages 10-19.

Figure 1. Teen suicide rates for the United States and Utah, 1979-1999.

* Includes AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY. California was excluded because its rate is dramatically lower than the other states, and including it would significantly skew the average. In fact, California is the only state in the continental U.S. west of the Mississippi with a rate lower than the national average!


How does Utah's rate compare to the rest of the country?

Table 1 shows how Utah's rate compares to the rest of the states. A rank of 1 indicates the highest rate.

Table 1. State teen suicide rates for the United States and Utah, and Utah's rank, 1990-1999.
Year High Average Low Utah Rank
1990 15.9 MT* 6.4 2.3 RI* 11.3 9
1991 17.0 WY* 6.2 1.1 DE* 8.0 19
1992 14.0 WY* 6.1 2.3 DE* 12.2 3
1993 21.1 AK* 6.1 3.3 DE* 10.4 7
1994 17.4 AK* 6.2 2.3 NJ 10.3 8
1995 14.3 MT* 6.0 1.6 RI* 11.6 6
1996 15.7 AK* 5.6 2.0 NJ 10.3 5
1997 15.6 SD* 5.5 2.3 RI* 12.2 4
1998 17.4 AK* 5.3 2.0 DE* 9.5 6
1999 19.7 WY* 4.7 1.9 NJ* 7.0 12
Average 14.8 AK 5.8 2.6 NJ 10.3 8
*Rates based on 20 or fewer suicides are unreliable and should be used with caution.

The following map shows how teen suicide rates vary across the country.

Figure 2. State teen suicide rates, 1990-1999 average


What is Utah's suicide rate for young teens (ages 10-14)?

Because the number of Utahns ages 10-14 who commit suicide in a single year is so small, the rate fluctuates wildly from year to year, and comparing rates for two individual years is not useful.

Figure 3 shows the suicide rate for young teens in Utah and the United States. Rates are the number of suicides per 100,000 residents ages 10-14. The table below the chart shows the actual number of suicides for this age group each year.

Figure 3. Young teen suicide rates for the United States and Utah, 1979-1999.


Sources

All data was retrieved from the Centers for Disease Control's WONDER database.

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