Suicide in Utah 2006

18 March

VITAL STATS 2006

Every eighteen months or so for the past several years I have compiled a set of reports from varying agencies that describe the health and well being of Utah.  It’s been my experience with the findings that I am saddened each time by the results.  I am more convinced with each report that being a member of the LDS Church plays a major role in the dismal outlook for the residents of Utah, both physically as well as spiritually.

This time the results varied somewhat but not enough to make even a little wave for the better.  The issues we’ll be examining are suicide, forcible rape, child abuse (specifically child molestation), domestic violence, and anti-depressant use in Utah. In May 2006 Deseret Morning News reported that the Department of Health for the state of Utah has declared teen suicide an epidemic.  The rate of teen suicide has more than tripled in the past 25 years.

The Utah Department of Health reported for the year 2004 that suicide was the second leading cause of death for the state.  Nationally, the second leading cause of death is malignant neoplasms (cancer) for the year 2003.  (This is the latest year for information provided by the CDC.  The top ten leading causes of death have not changed in eight years so I feel confident this fact will hold true for 2004 as well.) (1)  Utah had the seventh highest rate for suicide in the nation from 1999 to 2002.  (2)

The leading cause of death for residents of Utah in the age group of 25-34 years old is suicide.  In Utah alone there were 377 suicides for 2004 and 335 for 2003.   As of September 12, 2005 the CDC reports the rate of suicide went down nationally by .09% from 2003 to 2004. (3)  The decline for suicides wasn’t reality for the residents of Utah; their rate increased by 12.5%.  (4)

Roughly 2.8% of the deaths in Utah for 2004 were from suicide.  Total deaths for the entire state were 13,331.  (5)

Utah’s fertility rate is higher than the national average which made their population rise by 10.6% from 1999 to 2005.   That figure is exactly double of the nation’s population growth of 5.3% for the same time frame.  (6)  The irony in the numbers of births vs. suicides leaves me perplexed.  Could it be that feeling the pressure of being the perfect Mormon family with lots of children contributes to the alarmingly high numbers of suicides?

At the website of www.utah.gov it says this about suicide:  “From 1999-2003, 1,563 Utah residents committed suicide, making it the second leading cause of injury death for Utahns ages 10-44. Each year, suicide claims nearly as many lives as motor vehicle crashes. More Utah teens and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia and chronic lung disease combined (Satcher, 2001). It should also be noted that suicide deaths may be underreported. For example, a proportion of motor vehicle crash fatalities may be suicides….At one suicide every 28 hours, Utah’s rate has remained among the highest in the nation for more than two decades (13.74 per 100,000 population in Utah vs. 10.66 per 100,000 population nationwide). Of particular concern is the rate for young males ages 15-19, which averaged 22.49 per 100,000 population for the years 1999-2002 (the U.S. rate was 12.79 for the same period).”

Remember, the second leading cause of death nationally speaking, is cancer; suicide ranked eleventh!  The question “why” begs to be asked.  If the state’s population is 62% LDS why are there so many people committing suicide?  The last time I wrote a statistical report on Utah I received more than a handful of e-mails from people telling me that I’ve skewed the numbers.  Depending on which source you read, the variances in the numbers are minimal.  To make sure I’m being fair, here’s yet another objective website provided by the state of Utah to confirm my point.  From the website of Utah’s Based Indicator Information Systems for Public Health (IBIS-PH) http://ibis.health.utah.gov/indicator/view/SuicDth.AgeSex.html  it says;

“In Utah more people die from suicide than from motor vehicle traffic crashes. Utah also has the 10th highest suicide rate in the nation.
For Utah males ages 35-44, from 2000-2004, suicide has been the number one leading cause of death. For most other male 5-year age categories, suicide is the number two leading cause of death. For Utah females, from 2000-2004, suicide has been the number two leading cause of death for age categories 15-19 and 20-24. Although older adult males (85+) are far more likely to die of causes other than suicide, they have the highest suicide rates of any age group.
For males in Utah, years 2000-2004, suicide has been among the top 10 leading causes of death for all 5-year age categories from the 4 to 9 age category all the way up to the age 65 to 69 age category. For females, suicide has been among the top 10 leading causes of death for all 5-year age categories from the 10-14 age category up to the 60 to 64 age category.”

In April 2006 the Deseret News ran a six day series of articles they named “Teen suicide: Utah’s grim reality”.  The residents of Utah are well aware of the problem that continues to plague the predominately LDS state.  On average someone in Utah commits suicide every 28 hours.  Of that statistic a teen will take their own life every 11 days. (7)  I highly encourage everyone to read the entire series provided by Deseret News.  It is sickeningly true and the issue needs immediate attention.  There are at least a half a dozen stories in this series.  You can link here at http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,635201873,00.html  to begin reading the depressing details or see the footnote below.  One of the stories relates that 1 out of 8 students will try to commit suicide in their lifetime in Utah.

Sorry folks but I don’t have to “skew” the numbers to get a story; the numbers speak for themselves.  I don’t know about you but after reading the stories written by Deseret News and compiling the information from the various health agencies I am literally sick to my stomach.  My family and friends are always in deep prayer for me during the times that I do this research because it is so very depressing to me.  My people go about killing themselves for nothing but a lie; the lie about who God is, who Jesus is and who they are in the Lord’s eyes.  If I could stand on the rooftops of the buildings to scream the truth in every town in Utah I would to it just to get their attention.

And true to form just like in my last report, the story doesn’t end here.  The reports from the Bureau of Justice, the FBI and other agencies have their reports ready for crime in Utah as well as the nation. The Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice reports for 2005;

“Of the violent crimes that occur in Utah, rape is the only one is which Utah’s rate is above the national average…

Surveys show from this dept. that one in three Utah women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.  Child molestation was the most common form of sexual violence with rape closely following.

86.2% reported that their sexual violence experience occurred before their 18th birthday.

Overall, neither race nor income had any relationship with the occurrences.  Only 8.6% were violated by a stranger.  The majority of victims were aware of facilities or services they could contact for help, yet only 9.8% actually reported the crime to the police; 2.9% called the rape hotline for help, and a mere 8.2% sought medical attention.”  (8)

It would only stand to reason the victims wouldn’t report the crime if the majority were being abused by a family member!  The intimidation level is incredibly reliable for the perpetrator.  What little kid is going to turn their parent in for something like that?  It would mean they’d go to jail, the kid would be homeless, not to mention what would happen to the rest of the family.  The child is incapable of processing the situation logically.

You see, these statistics shouldn’t surprise anyone.  When you have a major portion of society (62% of Utah is LDS) that has been taught the way to heaven is through sex, you’re going to be dealing with the ramifications of such a teaching.  It really doesn’t take long to find the truth in Mormonism.  Their doctrine is replete with “thus saith the Lord” proclamations the way to heaven is through having a family.  Reality is that getting to heaven has nothing to do with God’s mercy of sending His Son to shed His blood for us.

Here is what the Encyclopedia of Mormonism says; “Latter-day Saints have an exceptionally positive view of procreation. After God commanded Adam and Eve to “multiply and replenish the earth” (Gen. 1:28), he pronounced all of his creation, including the power of procreation, “very good” (Gen. 1:31). President Joseph F. Smith noted, “The lawful association of the sexes is ordained of God, not only as the sole means of race perpetuation, but for the development of the higher faculties and nobler traits of human nature, which the love-inspired companionship of man and woman alone can insure” (IE 20:739).”

In other words there’s more to your marital relationship than bringing in children…it’s a way to develop “higher faculties” and become “noble”.  Where in the Bible does it say this?  Now while I admit this particular quote from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism doesn’t roll off the tongues of every Mormon, I’m using it as an example of the mindset they employ in regards to their salvation.  (9, 10)  The other Mormon scriptures are easy enough to find; for example, D&C 132 – the entire chapter; as well as Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 301; “Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity… they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory…

It’s also important to remember what they say about their prophets in D&C 68:3-4; “And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost.  And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”  It’s pretty obvious that the “ordinances” can change at a whim depending on what revelation they feel they may have received from God.  If the prophet says you must have a certain amount of children then you better get busy because your salvation is at stake!  Their beloved Brigham Young spoke about the importance of procreation in September 1856 in Salt Lake City.  Here is a portion of what he said; “Do you understand this? I have told you many times that there are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty?—to prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime…hence if my women leave, I will go and search up others who will abide the celestial law, and let all I now have go where they please; though I will send the Gospel to them.

     This is the reason why the doctrine of plurality of wives was revealed, that the noble spirits which are waiting for tabernacles might be brought forth.”  Journal of Discourses 4:56.

The doctrines on the importance of procreation, marriage and salvation have been taught for almost two hundred years to the Mormon people.  It has literally become a part of the fiber of their being.  A temple Mormon once told me that she is “the doctrine of the LDS Church”.  I’m not going into that argument here, but it gives you an idea of the way they see things.

I wanted to also make sure I followed up with the stats from crime in Utah vs. the rest of the nation.  As mentioned before in this article, Utah was below the national average for all violent crime except rape for 2004.  The rate for this particular crime has risen since my last report was written.  In 2002 the rate was 37.9 per 100,000 (see article here: http://www.lifeafter.org/mormonsuicide.asp).  Listed below are some comparisons of where Utah rated for forcible rape for 2004. (11) The numbers are based upon a population per 100,000:

Utah – Forcible rape rate – 39.1

California – Forcible rape rate – 26.8

New York – Forcible rape rate – 18.8

Florida – Forcible rape rate – 38.0

Washington – Forcible rape rate – 46.1

Idaho – Forcible rape rate – 40.9

Colorado – Forcible rape rate – 42.5

Nevada – Forcible rape rate – 40.9

New Mexico – Forcible rape rate – 54.6

Arizona – Forcible rape rate – 33.0

Wyoming – Forcible rape rate – 22.1

Keep in mind I realize that Utah’s average isn’t extraordinarily higher than anyone else’s.  My point is that they are below the national average for all violent crimes except this one, that being rape.  Coincidence?  I think not.  The reason I chose the states listed is because they either border Utah or to give the reader an example of where the Inter-Mountain area compares with others in the U.S.  Don’t think the long arm of Mormonism stays within the borders of Utah.

Another comparison that I found to be very telling is from the Utah Department of Health.  It says that in Utah 1 out of 3 girls and 1 out of 5 boys will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18.  Nationally the rates are 1 out of 6 women (17%) and 1 out of 33 men (3%) will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.  (12)  And they’re wondering why rape, suicide and domestic violence are so prevalent?  Rather, the question should be asked why these things aren’t more prevalent.

Think about it…3 little girls come to play at your house when the kids get out of school; they’re on the hunt for some chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk before they start talking about their “Barbie Dolls” or their new dress…if you have sons, they bring home a band of rough and tumbled, lanky, non-talkative kids who think of nothing but playing hoops or getting out to the field for batting practice…One child from each group has been raped and they’re only in grade school.

One of them never invites his/her friends for sleepovers because of what goes on in their home.  One of them wonders what it’d be like to live in a home like yours and or to have parents like you.  It’s mind boggling to say the least and if we as human beings feel such sadness over this fact; think for a moment how God must feel about it…thirty three percent of your precious daughters – twenty percent of your young men…shame on Utah.

Another tough issue Utah is dealing with is their use of prescription drugs.  I know that when the officials of the Church see this section of my report they’re going to roll their eyes and say; “Oh why beat on that old drum”.  The reason why I beat that old drum is because it’s still there to beat upon!  I discovered there is a belief within the medical community that antidepressants such as Prozac, can and does contribute to suicidal ideations, completed suicide, domestic violence, and abuse.  (13)

In 2001 Utah was rated number one in a study of which state uses the most antidepressant style drugs such as Prozac.  (14)  The drug distribution company, Howard Scripps, stated there were no plans for future studies.  I say that’s too bad, the public should be awarded factual information and perhaps someone will open their eyes to this massive problem.  Instead we get public proclamations from doctors at the University of Utah and researchers at BYU who contradict each other and put their heads in the sand by saying things like the following: “Doug Gray, a University of Utah child psychiatrist, said culture does play a big role in Utah’s suicide rate but couldn’t say it is exclusively attributable to religion…The BYU researchers concluded that even though Utah is predominantly LDS, there is no evidence to suggest demands and pressures on church members contribute to the state’s overall high suicide rate.”  (15)

Well that certainly cleared things up.  Let’s move on to the next subject…

There was one area that Utah actually rated better than in previous years.  In the area of domestic violence they came in at #28 out of 50 for 2004.  The last time I did this they were #16.  For 2003 it was verified that 25% of homicides were a result of domestic violence and for 2004 there were 23 people who died because of someone’s rage.  Between July of 2003 and July of 2004 there were 6, 027 allegations of domestic violence related child abuse.  The rates were compiled and published for the governor’s office by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  (16)

The CDC, the FBI, the Bureau of Justice, the Utah Department of Health, the governor’s office and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence can all come up with their statistics and produce mountains of evidence for what we already know.  I would suggest that to come up with some objective truth, you should go outside the borders of the LDS Church.

The “best guess” answer any of them could give is summed up by what BYU NewsNet reported on December 6, 2004; “Six suicides at Utah Valley State College during the past year may be only the symptom of a statewide problem.”Over time it does seem like it [suicides] has increased a little bit, until this year it just kind of exploded for some reason,” UVSC Director of Student Health Services Jack L. Jensen said.  Jensen has worked for UVSC for 27 years and said this has been the most suicides in a year he has seen while working there. The school usually experiences one to two suicides a year, but to already have had six this year is unusual….Devoutness to a religion is probably one of the best protective factors that a person can have against suicide,” Jensen said.”  (17)

Pray with us here at the ministry won’t you?  Pray for the people of Mormonism to be honest with themselves…and be honest for the sake of the children.

With Love in Christ;

Michelle Grim

1 Cor. 1:18

Note:  The dates for final reports used from varying agencies for this article were the latest and most complete information found at the time of this writing; October 2006.

1 – http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/finaldeaths03/finaldeaths03.htm

2 – http://health.utah.gov/vipp/pdf/suicidefactsheet2005.pdf

3 – http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/preliminarydeaths04_tables.pdf

4 – http://health.utah.gov/vitalrecords/pub_vs/ia04/04bx.pdf  See pgs. R72-74

http://www.census.gov/popest/states/tables/NST-EST2004-01.pdf

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/49000.html

5 – http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr54/nvsr54_20.pdf

6 – http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/49000.html

7 – http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,635201873,00.html

8 – http://www.justice.utah.gov/Research/SexOffender/RapeInUtah.pdf

9 – http://www.sltrib.com/search/ci_2886596 (See article in SLC Trib. – “Mormon/Utah population shrinking” by Matt Canham)

10 – Gospelink – Encyclopedia of Mormonism, pg. 1157.

11http://bjsdata.ojp.usdoj.gov/dataonline/Search/Crime/State/statebystaterun.cfm?stateid=45

12 – http://www.health.utah.gov/vipp/rapeSexualAssault/overview.html

13 – http://www.drugawareness.org/Archives/Miscellaneous/MRnextgen.html

14 – http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/062401/tec_124-4635.shtml

15 – Deseret Morning News, Sunday, April 23, 2006.  Story, “Some Say Culture is a Factor in Suicides” by Dennis Romboy.

16 – http://www.ncadv.org/files/Utah.pdf

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One Response to “Suicide in Utah 2006”

  1. Shayne Maletz March 31, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Thanks for your Good blog post.i shared your site http://lifeafterministry.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/utahs-vital-stats-2006/ at reddit so I can refer to it later

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