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Lawmakers discuss possible end of SafeUT commission

May 17, 2023, 1:34 PM | Updated: May 18, 2023, 9:32 am

(Safe UT)...

(Safe UT)

(Safe UT)

SALT LAKE CITY — The SafeUT app is a free app that provides mental health resources 24/7, 365 days a year, and was created to combat Utah’s high youth suicide rates.

On Wednesday, Utah’s Education Interim Committee met to discuss a sunset date concerning the SafeUT commission, which currently would end in 2025. The meeting gave those in the room a voice to discuss whether they want to see the program meet that sunset date or make changes, such as filing for a bill to keep the commission alive.

Rep. Steve Eliason was a key player in getting the app off the ground. The SafeUT app would continue to operate past the commission’s end date, but Eliason said it is crucial the commission continues as a resource.

“Having the ability to talk with a master’s level clinical social worker any time, day or night, without an appointment at no cost? Utah is the only state in the nation you can do that,” Eliason said.

Utah girl rescued from kidnapping after using SafeUT app

At its core, he said nearly every school in the state has the SafeUT app set up. It plays two significant roles in preventing school deaths and suicides.

The app serves as a resource for crisis intervention for students, parents and even teachers to talk with a licensed master’s level counselor at Huntsman Mental Health Institute on the other end.

“The program has over a million messages going back and forth between students and therapists a year,” Eliason said.

This comes as school safety is at the forefront of our minds. Eliason said this past fiscal year, 801 potential school threats were reported anonymously through the app that were followed up on.

“Students see something, if they say something, they could potentially avert a school shooting,” he explained.

Because there were not enough members Wednesday to vote, they will be circling back once they meet again to establish the next steps.

“The results speak for itself, so I’m confident it’ll go on because it’s been so successful,” Eliason said.

Correction: This article originally stated the SafeUT app had a sunset date of Jan. 1, 2024. However, lawmakers have clarified only the commission would sunset, and that would take place in 2025. There is no discussion to end the SafeUT app.

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Lawmakers discuss possible end of SafeUT commission