The Utah App Revolutionizing Youth Suicide Prevention
SafeUT is a statewide suicide prevention service in the form of an app. It was created with funding from the Utah State Legislature in collaboration with University of Utah’s University Neuropsychiatric Institute, along with funding from other government bodies and donations.
Representative Steven Eliason helped legislate funding for the app. The Republican from Sandy is now a leader of the youth suicide prevention task force created to advise lawmakers during this year’s legislative session.
“It’s just a resource that’s never been available. It’s no secret in today’s world there are a lot of pressures and stress that students are under,” he said. “This has been kind of a serendipitous discovery for us, because we kind of did this on a pilot program, and it took off faster than any of us had ever imagined.”
The app provides students an easier way to talk about their problems. A student could chat with or call a licensed crisis worker at any time, in any place. They can also report anonymous safety tips for their schools.
Eliason said there are many reasons the app has been so effective, generating on average, 680 chats and 415 safety tips per month.
“It’s anonymous, it’s confidential, it’s free, it’s available 24/7,” he said.
Eliason said expanding SafeUT may be one of the recommendations the youth suicide prevention task force offers to Utah lawmakers. The program hasn’t been implemented in every school district, and was just implemented at University of Utah this month, which is the first university to use the app.
Eliason said the task force is investigating a more widely available program.
“How do we potentially market a statewide crisis text line, for anybody to use? Actually, the framework for that is already established, there’s just been no funding given to it,” he said. “That could happen in relatively very short order, actually.”
The youth suicide prevention task force will continue to research solutions to be considered in the 2018 legislative session until Feb. 15.