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State and religious leaders join national weekend of prayer to prevent suicide

(Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

UTAH STATE CAPITOL – Analysts say 500 Utahns take their own lives every year.  Faith leaders from several denominations are joining with people from all over the country to participate in a special prayer to kick off National Suicide Prevention Week.

The numbers are not encouraging.  Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox says suicide rates in Utah are higher than the national average.  Plus, Utah ranks highest in the prevalence of suicidal thoughts in adults.

“Our recent numbers show our adult suicides continue to climb,” Cox says.

However, there are some things that give him hope.  He says the majority of people who make a plan to take their lives don’t make an attempt, and most people who survive an attempt never make another one.  He believes that proves suicide prevention techniques work.  Cox says many people will disparage “thoughts and prayers,” but, he believes prayers can unite people in ways other things can’t.

Pastor Logan Wolf from CrossPoint Baptist Church led the audience in prayer, saying mental illness isn’t something happening outside of church walls.  He believes that God knows all people by their names, and loves them, individually.

“He knows what you’re struggling with and he knows the struggles of those people.  Jesus tells us in John 3 that God so loved the world…but make that specific, as well.  God doesn’t just love the world, God loves you, personally,” Wolf says.

Elder LeGrand Curtis with the First Quorum of the Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints says the Church has suicide prevention resources on their website, but, true prevention has to have a personal touch.

Curtis says, “We as members of wards and members of branches and communities really need to be in a position where we reach out and help people and we’re aware of each other.”

Also, if people feel a church’s policy makes them feel like an outsider, he encourages them to speak with faith leaders to see if there is common ground that could bring them together.

“I pray for those who feel marginalized and alone that they will know that they are our brothers and sisters,” Curtis says.

Anyone going through depression or thoughts of suicide should call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.