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Six suicides at UVSC in the last year

Read about it here.

What's the deal? This is terrible. And I don't get why I've never heard of any UVSC suicides until now. It seems like even individual suicides would make the paper in a community as small as ours.

On another note, I'm seeing a discrepancy in these two quotes:

Utah has one of the highest suicide rates when compared to the national average.


Jensen said a BYU study demonstrated active LDS males are seven times less likely to commit suicide than their inactive counterparts or ones that are not active in any religion.

"Devoutness to a religion is probably one of the best protective factors that a person can have against suicide," Jensen said.

If Utah has the highest concentration of LDS in the United States why do we have "one of the highest suicide rates"?


If Utah has the highest concentration of LDS in the United States why do we have "one of the highest suicide rates"?

Answer: Because all the non-LDS people can't take it and they kill themselves.

Actually, I think it has more to do with the fact that we have less people in the state. Even though LDS males are less likely, I think per capita we still have a higher rate.

Here's the answer

The reason Utah has a higher suicide rate is because young people are much more likely to commit suicide than older people and Utah has by far the youngest population in the nation.

For this same reason, all "per capita" statistics for Utah need to be weighted. For example: All other factors being even, Utah should rightfully have the highest per capita rate in the country for drug addiction, teen pregnancy, high SAT scores, vandalism, participation in the boy scouts, video game purchases, marijuana usage, both marriage and divorce, abortions, admissions to elite universities, etc., etc. All of these "per capita" statistics will be skewed to the high end for Utah because they are all characteristic of younger people.

Therefore, a more accurate measure of suicide rates would be "number of suicides per number of people of suicide-prone age".

Bottom Line:
Given that Utah is ranked #1 in the relative youth of its population, the fact that Utah is not #1 in suicide per capita (though ranked high) indicates that Utahns are less likely to commit suicide than their counterparts in other states. Whether this is the result of the predominant Mormon culture in Utah is certainly possible, but I don't see how that could be conclusively proven.

Now that's more like it...


I think you nailed it

I think you nailed it, Laurence. I hadn't thought of that.

moutain states and eschatology and suicide

from what i've read, the higher trend of suicide is prevaltent throughout the intermountain states. some studides attribute this to the higher elevations of utah, colorado, wyoming, idaho, and montana. less oxygen or something. i don't recall exactly what it was about elevation.

another factor i think that might add to the suicide rate is an eschatological factor. people here in utah and other 'mormon states' tend to believe in an afterlife more than other states, more particular, this they believe in an afterlife that is much better than our lives here on earth and isn't just the (traditional chirstian) eternity of playing harps and praising god non-stop. this more than likely sweetens the idea of suicide by offering something even better when life over here seems to be nothing but suffering.

one of my best friends killed himself my sophmore year of highschool. there was a lot going on emotionally and biologically. it pains to think of the inner suffering he went through before he made his decision. i'm glad that at least there he was able to be embraced and comforted, though i still wish he found that here instead.

Doesn't sound likely.


It would take a heck of a lot of convincing for me to believe that less oxygen causes suicide. Similarly, it would take a veritible mountain of evidence for me to come to the conclusion that any significant number of Mormons commits suicide because they believe the afterlife is preferable to this one.

Or were you just kidding around? (If so, sorry.)

it's just what i read

i don't recall what exactly what it was about the mountains that led to a higher suicide rate according to the article said. i just remember the article attributing more suicides to the higher altitude of the mountain states.

i don't understand why you don't see any influence a belief in a greater afterlife would have on someone's decision to commit suicide. do you disagree that a person with an optimistic eschatalogical belief would be more likely than one with a pessimistic eschatalotigical belief or none at all?

Causes of Suicide


Statistically, it may be that short people are prone to suicide, since they are more likely to have experienced malnourishment. Catholics may be suicidal because their emphasis on sin and repentance makes them feel unworthy to live. The high mercury levels of shellfish may cause such dire health issues in Maine that the folks there are more likely to commit suicide.

I just made all of those up out of thin air. They all sound not too unreasonable and some of them, or all of them, may be true. But until I see some pretty good proof, they're all just something some guy said on the internet that sounded like it could be true.

So... Has someone done a study on high rates of Mormon suicide? Or on the high incidence of suicide at high altitudes? If so, I think we need to reference it. In the meantime, I will continue to believe that the high incidence of suicide in Utah is due to nothing more than the simple fact that Utah has a high proportion of young people.

Look what random web searching can pull up

It's conclusive... Google does know everything. Tried "mormon suicide rate" and got this little gem right at the top. A couple of interesting quotes.

For more than 10 years, 15- to 34-year-old males in Utah have had suicide rates markedly higher than those seen nationally. In fact, in the early to mid-1990s, suicide was the number one cause of death among 25- to 44-year-old men in the state and the second-leading cause of death among men aged 15 to 24.

And further down

In addition, the risk of suicide among males aged 15 to 19 was three times higher among the less active church members than among their active peers, but the rate among the active youth was comparable to the national suicide rate.

And my favorite part...

Lastly, the high value placed on life by many religions may also be an indirect method of suicide prevention, since individuals who are strongly committed to their faith may have a greater desire to live.

It's an interesting read

i stand corrected...

i remember now (after being reminded) that the higher death rates in the intermountain west may be linked to the higher availability of guns (according to the article).

i still hold that eschatological beliefs may affect the likelyhood of committing suicide. this is hardly an attempt at hume's comcitant variation as you imply because i have no statistics whatsoever to back it up. rather, it just logically seems that a belief in a better life than a current suffering one would increase the appeal of suicide. if you disagree, please tell me where i am wrong.

i do find it interesting (though not at all surprising) that active youth are less likely to committ suicide. is this because active youth are just less depressed overall? have a better support system? find greater value in mortal life including its suffering? or is it that inactive youth are more likely to be depressed by being on the outside? or is it drug/abuse related? or is it something different altogether?


Well done dJake.

It appears that I was dead wrong in blaming the "per capita" statistics. The authors point out that young people (15-34) in Utah have been more likely to commit suicide than young people in other states. Therefore "per capita" is not the culprit I made it out to be.

For some reason, less active Mormon young men are the reason Utah has a suicide rate. At least now we've narrowed down the target. Let the speculation begin! I have my own theory, but I won't bore anyone with it.

I've observed, and the script

I've observed, and the scriptures seem to back this up - that when people fall away from the gospel they tend to fall very hard. Perhaps the suicide phenomenon is related to the "you can leave the Church but you can't leave it alone" pattern that Elder Maxwell talked about. In my experience it is pretty foolproof.

More on Suicide


I dont' find your theory implausible at all, and I didn't mean to be harsh or dismissive. In fact I find your "afterlife" theory more plausible than the "access to guns" theory introduced in the article that dJake referenced. My only point is that, given the lack of any solid proof for these theories, they are simply speculation. There's nothing wrong with speculation, but let's make sure we don't raise speculation to the level of fact. In that spirit, I guess I'll go ahead and put my own out there (which is similar in some respects to dJake's and your own)...

I suspect that young homosexual Mormons (for example) are very likely to first fall away from the Church, and then become high-risk candidates for suicide. The same - I suspect - may be true of young Mormons who start drinking, or doing drugs.

The underlying theory goes like this...

I grew up mostly in Utah. There are some really cool things about that experience (maybe we'll get to that later), but there is also an unfortunate dark side. The dark side is this: Mormons in Utah high-schools are either "good kids" or they are "bad kids" - much more so than elsewhere. I was a "good kid" - President of my seminary class three years running. But its easy to become part of the "bad kids". A beer every now and then at a party, for example. Once you're a "bad kid", you'll have a hard time kicking the label. And if you're gay you will never kick it. From there, it doesn't take a genius to understand how a kid's declining self-worth would lead him to fall away from the Church (the source of his guilt), and eventually become despondent to the point of suicide.

Finally, I think its important to note that these theories (mine, yours, dJake's, the ones about oxygen and guns and alcohol) are not mutually exclusive. Its certain that the "real answer" for the high Utah suicide rate is a combination of many factors in varying degrees. After all, none of us would argue that all suicides in Utah happen for the same exact reason.

that was me


Religion Theory

Here's my theory on Utah suicidal tendancies:

Less-active LDS youth will have a basic understanding of the hereafter and the rules that apply to it in acceptance to the upper echelons. It is possible that with the combination of understanding of what it takes to attain the Celestial Kingdom, coupled with major depression associated with behavior contrary the gospel (See Mosiah 2:41) that a false realization that spiritual recovery isn't possible and then comes the question "What's the point of going on?" At that point you pull a The Happiest Day of My Life (from Good Charlotte's The Young and the Hopeless album) and proceed to move from this realm to the next. I guess in this regard I would agree with what Tyler said earlier, that the idea of the afterlife is somehow sweeter with the basic gospel knowledge.