State's Youth Suicide Rate Has Nearly Tripled Since 2007, But Health Officials Refuse to Acknowledge Impact of Anti-Gay Religious Teachings
Earlier this year, we told you how 32 young LGBT Mormons reportedly had taken their own lives in the three months after the church announced its horrific new policy declaring same-sex couples apostates and barring their children from being baptized.
At the time, the Utah Department of Health disputed the figure from Mama Dragons, a support group for the parents of LGBT Mormons, saying it wasn't backed up by state data. But now, the Department of Health has released another statistic that is equally troubling.
From 2007 through 2014, Utah's youth suicide rate nearly tripled, from 3.0 per 100,000 to 8.5 per 100,000. Suicide is now the leading cause of death for people ages 10 through 17 in Utah, where the rate is more than double the national average.
The Associated Press reports that state health officials don't know the reasons for the increase but plan to launch an in-depth study.
Andrea Hood, a suicide prevention coordinator at the Department of Health, told AP that possible factors include lower oxygen levels due to high altitudes, loose gun restrictions and "a western, rugged mentality of self-reliance." Shockingly, nowhere does the article mention any possible LGBT component.
According to the Trevor Project, studies show LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide, while those who are rejected by their families are eight times more likely to do so.
Coincidentally, in the same year Utah's youth suicide rate began its upward climb, 2008, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and its members contributed more than $20 million in support of Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage.
Sadly, though, Mormon leaders have not only declined to take responsibility for LGBT youth suicides, they've callously dismissed them.
Back in February, Mormon Elder Dallin Oaks — a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — suggested that people were wrongly blaming the church for the deaths of their loved ones.
"I know that those tragic events happen," Oaks said. "And it’s not unique simply to the question of sexual preference. There are other cases where people have taken their own lives and blamed a church – my church – or a government, or somebody else for their taking their own lives, and I think those things have to be judged by a higher authority than exists on this earth," Oaks said.