Utah experienced a nearly 12% increase in the number of residents who died by suicide in 2022 compared to 2021, according to a press release recently issued by the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.

Last year, 717 Utahns died by suicide. Additionally, suicide rates increased throughout the U.S., as reported by the Centers for Disease Control last week.

“This increase in suicide in our state is a call to action for every Utahn,” Dr. Michelle Hofmann, deputy director of the state department, said in the news release. “Seek training and know what to do when someone is experiencing a crisis. And when you need help, ask for it: call 988, talk to someone you trust, and get the support you need.”

Getting help when you need it is easier today than it was a year ago. The Suicide Prevention and Crisis Lifeline, 988, is accessible via phone, messaging on a computer or phone and text message.

SafeUT is available to more people and teens than ever before. Mobile crisis outreach teams — skilled care teams who respond to individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis — are available everywhere in Utah.

Stock image | Photo by kitzcorner/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Michael Staley, suicide prevention research coordinator with the state health and human services department, said in the media release that Utahns are using these resources and getting help.

“Still, the increase in suicide rates we experienced in 2022 tells us there is more work to be done,” Staley said. “One of those things we need to do most is talk about suicide and make it okay for individuals, especially men, to ask for help when they need it.”

Suicide has been increasing in the U.S. for at least the past 20 years. Historical trends show increases in suicide mortality usually occur two years after a major societal event. For example, the U.S. saw a large increase in suicide mortality in 2011 and subsequent years, following the Great Recession, which began in 2008.

“Now, as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we may be realizing this delayed increase in suicide mortality nationally,” the press release states.

In Utah, suicide counts and rates increased for both males and females in 2022 compared to 2021; however, the increase was slightly greater for males, who already die at a ratio of nearly 4 males for every female.

“Experts attribute these differences to the type of suicide method used; males tend to use highly lethal means, such as a firearm, whereas females use less lethal methods, providing time for intervention,” Staley said. “More access to lethal means in a suicidal crisis strongly increases the likelihood of suicide death.”

More information about the data discussed in this release is available in this data update.

There are lots of things you can do to help others who might be at risk for suicide.

Watch: Watch out for signs that the people you care about might be struggling. Let them know you’re there to support them.

Ask: Ask directly if they’re thinking about suicide. It won’t make them more likely to attempt it. Research shows that direct, open conversations can actually reduce suicide risk.

Listen: If a friend or loved one tells you they’re thinking about suicide, take them seriously and ask open-ended questions to find out more. Stay calm and listen without judgment.

Connect: Invite them to seek out professional resources, like the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or a therapist. You can even offer to help them set up an appointment. If you need help caring for a loved one in crisis, you can also reach out to 988 for guidance and support.

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you are not alone. Help is available. Please reach out to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988, to talk with a trained crisis worker 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To learn more visit, this website. You can also take the free Live On Playbook training available in EnglishSpanish, and for veterans and service members. The Playbooks are a series of short, engaging lessons that teach you the most important things that you can do to help prevent suicide.