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U.S. Surgeon General: Teens struggling with mental health more than ever before 

SALT LAKE CITY — A 2021 advisory just released by The U.S. Surgeon General called Protecting Youth Mental Health painted a sobering picture of the mental health of Americas youth.  

The 53-page report showed a climbing suicide number and 6,600 reported suicide deaths in 2020. 

Some experts believed the mental health of teens and young people had been on the decline based on too much social media and expectations combined with the stresses of the pandemic.  

Youth Mental Health by LarryDCurtis on Scribd

Overall, things werent looking great before COVID-19 and the great shut down and now theyre even worse. 

Some of the headlines from the report showed suicide attempts in young girls, ages ten to 24, were up 51% in 2020 (from the same time the prior year) and 4% more young boys attempted suicide.  

Additionally, young Black children were twice as likely to die by suicide than their white counterparts. The study broke down five factors that can shape the mental health of young people with in-depth sections on society, environment, community, family and individual. 

At the Canyons District, Susan Pizitz is a licensed clinical social worker. She has seen the difference in students this year. Theyre feeling isolated, theyre feeling disconnected from their peers. 

That appears to be a problem across the county. 

The mental health issue doesnt stop with youth. University Hospital medical professionals said adults are struggling too, especially as daylight shortens and the holidays approach.  

They said seasonal affective depression can set in this time of year.  

If youre feeling more irritated, or just down for no reason, it might be worth talking to your healthcare provider, said Dr. Rachel Weir, a psychiatrist with Huntsman Mental Health Institute.  

Experts said social media can increase feelings of depression for youth and adults, they encouraged getting outside for exercise, or meeting with friends face-to-face. 

You can read the full U.S. Surgeon General Advisory here. 

Suicide prevention resources 

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting warning signs, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Utah Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, which is answered 24/7/365 by crisis counselors at Huntsman Mental Health Institute.  

You can also text TALK to 741741 and parents, students, and educators can download the SafeUT app chat or call 833-3SAFEUT to connect with a licensed crisis counselor.  

Additional resources 

  • Parents, students, and educators can download the SafeUT app chat or call 833-3SAFEUT to connect with a licensed crisis counselor. 
  • First responders, including firefighters, law enforcement, EMS, and healthcare professionals, can chat with a crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUT Frontline app and members of the National Guard can access help through the SafeUTNG app. 
  • For non-crisis situations, when you need a listening ear as you heal and recover from a personal struggle, call the Utah Warm Line at 1-833 SPEAKUT 8:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m., 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 
  • At Huntsman Mental Health Institute, women can access maternal mental health services including birth trauma, pregnancy loss, infertility, and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. 
  •, a campaign by the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition offers suicide prevention training and has resources for faith-based groups, youth, LGBTQ+, and Employers. 

Other community-based organizations that provide suicide prevention services, support groups, mental health education, counseling services and support: 

Additional crisis hotlines 

  • Utah County Crisis Line: 801-226-4433 
  • Salt Lake County/UNI Crisis Line: 801-587-3000 
  • Wasatch Mental Health Crisis Line: 801-373-7393 
  • National Suicide Prevention Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741-741 
  • Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386 
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