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Report: Assistance through SafeUT youth counseling service on the rise

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Daily Herald | Dec 8, 2022

Courtesy SafeUT

SafeUT provides real-time crisis intervention for students, parents/guardians and educators through live chat and a confidential tip line.

SALT LAKE CITY — During the past year, SafeUT counselors with the Huntsman Mental Health Institute exchanged more than 1 million messages with people seeking help.

The 2021-22 annual report, released Thursday by SafeUT, shows 349 life-saving interventions were completed between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, which is a 17% increase from last year.

SafeUT is an app developed in response to the state’s high youth suicide rate. In Utah, suicide is the leading cause for death in people ages 10-24. The app provides a way to connect people in any type of crisis in real-time to a Huntsman Mental Health Institute counselor 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Anyone can start a chat if they are in a crisis situation or have a tip to submit concerning bullying, school safety threats, potential acts of violence or suicidal concerns.

Mental health counselors responding to chats and calls provide confidential supportive or crisis counseling, suicide prevention and referral services. If a suicide is an active attempt, SafeUT works with first responders to initiate an active rescue.

“SafeUT is far more than an app. It’s a system of care, and it represents the combined vision of the Legislature, Utah Attorney General, citizens, parents and mental health professionals statewide,” said Ric Cantrell, chair of the SafeUT Commission. “Even with the rise of risk factors, suicide rates have remained relatively flat in Utah over the last year. This is likely due to the increase in supportive mental health services, such as SafeUT. The SafeUT team has stepped up to the challenge, provided professional solutions and saved more lives than ever before.”

The app has also expanded to include other populations of Utahns at risk for mental health crises, including SafeUT National Guard for Utah Air and Army National Guard members, civilian personnel and their families, along with SafeUT frontline for Utah law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical services and health care providers and their families.

The annual data also shows 87% of SafeUT users reported the app made them feel heard, and 93% said counselors showed respect for what they had to say. At least 62.5% said SafeUT has made them more likely to seek additional mental health services.

“We’re encouraged to see that SafeUT counselors are making a measurable impact on the well-being of Utahns,” said Rachel Lucynski, director of community crisis services at Huntsman Mental Health Institute. “Our staff is saving lives. We’re all grateful for their dedication and service to improving mental health care access for all.”

More key statistics from the report also show 882,427 students have access to the SafeUT app across Utah, up from 850,790 last year. SafeUT received 8,537 total tips from Utah K-12 and higher ed students, parents/guardians and educators, including 1,579 suicide tips, 994 bullying tips and 456 depression tips. That’s up from 6,274 last year.

SafeUT received 801 tips for potential school threats or acts of violence, including 157 for guns, 149 for planned attacks, 75 for assault and 70 for fights. That’s up from 256 threat tips last year.

You can download SafeUT on your phone. For more information, go to SafeUT.org.

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