- Associated Press - Friday, January 24, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Suicides plagued rural southwestern Utah from 2009 to 2011 at a higher rate than any other ZIP code statewide, new state data show.

The ZIP code with the highest suicide rate per capita encompasses Kane, Garfield and Beaver counties and part of Iron County, according to a report from the Utah Department of Health. The most recent figures show that the area had 27 total suicides from 2009 to 2011, which was a rate of about 42 per 100,000 people.

“The access to getting help, that’s going to be a big issue down there,” said Jenny Johnson, a spokeswoman for the department. Such outlying communities tend to have fewer mental health services and a hard time clearing stigma about depression and other mental illnesses, Johnson said.

South Salt Lake’s suicide rate trailed close behind, with 26 fatalities, a rate of 40.5 per 100,000 people.

The Northern Utah towns of Farmington and Centerville tied the part of Provo that includes Brigham Young University for the lowest rate of suicide at 5.9 per 100,000.

Utah tallied 1,400 total suicides during the three-year period.

The study comes from the department’s violence and injury prevention program.

The rate of attempted suicides varied widely during that time, even among nearby towns, the report shows. For example, the rate of emergency visits from failed suicide attempts stayed relatively low in Logan, ranked the eighth lowest in the state, but reached a statewide high in Brigham City.

“That kind of thing surprises us,” Johnson said. “You go from the worst to the best and you’re only going 30 miles.” Town demographic factors like average household income and distance from health clinics can account for some of those differences, she said.

“The goal,” Johnson continued, “is to help towns figure out what issues they need to work on.”


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