Utah is fifth in the nation for having the highest rate of teen suicide.
Pastor Carol Loftin’s of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Copperton, Utah, became involved in the crusade against teen suicide when she lost two youth from her own congregation to, as she calls it, death by suicide.
“Suicide is devastating to anyone and any family, especially in teenage years. It’s an epidemic,” she said. “There are people to help [and] to reach out to, [including] your teachers, your pastor, your parents.”
Barry Rose is a crisis services manager for the University of Utah’s University Neuropsychiatric Institute, or UNI. He, along with Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, have introduced a new app to help prevent teen suicide.
The SafeUT app has two primary functions: You can call or text a crisis hotline to speak to a licensed clinician about a personal crisis, or you can report on a loved one who may be having a crisis themselves.
A licensed clinician can be reached by phone or text 24/7. Most hotlines in Utah only connect the person in crisis to a volunteer rather than someone who has a degree in counseling. Rose said SafeUT is unique because anyone can connect with the counselors through a text message.
“We’re finding that people are more comfortable and people are more open sometimes via text than they are with our call center staff via phone,” he said.
The app, which was developed by Anderson Software, has over 1,000 downloads from the Android Play Store alone. It can also be accessed through iTunes.