By Travis Uresk
Because of the situation of this story, some names will be left out.
Uintah Co. Ut.- On 6/28/23, Deputy Ouderkirk was dispatched to a 911 unknown call where the only initial information was a female caller was yelling at someone, saying they weren't going to shoot themselves, and then the call was disconnected.
The reporting person responded to a 911 text message stating that a 40-year-old male was suicidal and that he was grabbing guns. The dispatch center re-established a phone line with the reporting party and heard a male yelling in the background, saying, "I'm so sick of everyone, kill me please, shoot me in the fucking head."
When Deputy Ouderkirk arrived on the scene, he listened for any signs of a disturbance. He could hear muffled voices through a window and what sounded like someone crying.
The Deputy knocked on the door, and a female who was crying answered the door and then ran back into the home. Ouderkirk drew his service pistol and entered the home with Sgt. Watkins. Immediately upon entering the home, they saw what appeared to be a loaded Sig Sauer pistol on the floor in the living room, along with damaged property and a tipped-over baby's crib that had been damaged.
The Deputies called out that the police were there several times and followed the sound of the crying female. The Deputies met the female in a bedroom where they saw a male lying face down on the bed. Deputy Ouderkirk raised his firearm to a "Low ready" position as Sgt. Watkins called out for the male to show them his hands.
The man had nothing in his hands, and the Officers quickly placed him in custody for everyone's safety.
Further investigation of the incident, the Officers learned there had been a physical altercation between the male and female after he made several threats to kill himself. The woman stated that the male held a pistol to his head several times during the night, and she kept taking them away from him and hiding them in different rooms in the home.
The female stated at one point, the male was pushing her in order to get to one of the guns, and she was pushing him back. She stated there were no marks or bruises on her, and at one point, when the male held the pistol to his head, she made several attempts to remove the gun from him and finally punched him in the face to prevent him from shooting himself.
The female stated he would have a black eye because she punched him hard enough to knock him out. The woman told the Officers that earlier in the night, prior to the suicidal episode, the male had been drinking, and he had gotten into an argument with his brother.
She stated during the argument, and he suddenly turned his anger toward her. She stated that the male's brother left and that the male began breaking items in the house, such as pictures of him and the female, and damaging several hundreds of dollars worth of property inside the home.
During the interview with the female, she would frequently become so overwhelmed with emotion that she would begin to cry again. This incident was traumatic, and there were several times when the male had posed a significant risk of injuring not only himself but the female as well.
The female showed Deputy Ouderkirk the video of her interactions with the male while he was intoxicated and made the statement that the dispatch center had heard, "I'm so sick of everyone, kill me please, shoot me in the fucking head."
The male denied any mention of wanting to harm or kill himself or others.
The male was arrested and taken to the Uintah County Jail, where he is being held with no bail.
The NAMI Utah Prevention by Design program works with, supports and provides grant funding to local coalitions throughout Utah to implement and evaluate suicide/mental illness prevention and mental health promotion strategies. Prevention by Design is a key stakeholder and leader in the Utah suicide prevention movement. NAMI Utah Prevention by Design is helping advance the goal to reduce suicide rates in Utah by 10% by 2021 with the ultimate goal of zero suicides in Utah.
Suicide is a largely preventable public health problem and a leading cause of death for Utahns. Suicide is the leading cause of death for youth ages 10-17. Many more people attempt suicide than die by suicide. Every suicide death causes a ripple effect on individuals, families, and communities.
While suicide is a leading cause of death and many people report thoughts of suicide, the topic is still largely met with silence and shame just like mental illness. We at NAMI Utah know that everyone plays a role in suicide prevention…it is up to each one of us to help create communities where people feel safe and supported. It is essential for all Utahns to understand that people can and do recover from suicidal crises and mental health conditions.
QPR: SUICIDE PREVENTION TRAINING
According to the Surgeon General’s National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (2001), a gatekeeper is someone in a position to recognize a crisis and the warning signs that someone may be contemplating suicide.
Gatekeepers can be anyone, but include parents, friends, neighbors, teachers, ministers, doctors, nurses, office supervisors, squad leaders, foremen, police officers, advisors, caseworkers, firefighters, and many others who are strategically positioned to recognize and refer someone at risk of suicide.
QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer — 3 simple steps that anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help.
QPR is a 60-90 minute training. Free workshops run on the 4th Thursday of each month, from 12 pm - 1:30 pm.
UTAH SUICIDE DATA
An average of 592 Utahns die from suicide and 4,538 Utahns aged 10 and up attempt suicide each year.
Overall, Utah males had a significantly higher age-adjusted suicide rate compared to Utah females.
Utah adults aged 25-64 had the highest rate of suicide.
Use of a firearm (49.7%) was the most common method of suicide deaths in Utah.
The Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition revised the state Suicide Prevention Plan in 2017 with a goal of reducing the Utah suicide death rate by 10% by 2021. The plan outlines effective, evidence-based strategies for promoting wellness and preventing suicide using Social Ecological Model. This can be found at the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition website.
Reducing risk factors and increasing protective factors are essential to reducing suicides; common factors include:
Effective Behavioral Health Care
Contact with Caregivers
Problem Solving Skills
Prior Suicide Attempt(s)
Access to lethal Means
Why Means Matter:
Suicides outnumber homicides 8-1 in Utah.
85% of firearm deaths in Utah were suicides 2006-2015.
Firearms account for half of all Utah suicides.
91% of firearm suicides among youth under 18 occurred at home
Putting time and distance between a suicidal person and a gun may save a life.
Suicidal crisis’s are often brief
The deadliness of an attempt depends in part on the method used
90% of those who attempt suicide and survive don’t go on to kill themselves.
If a person talks about
No reason to live
Being a burden
These may signal a risk
Having no reason to live
Withdrawing from activities
Giving away prized possessions
One or more of the following
Loss of interest
SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES
UTAH SUICIDE PREVENTION COALITION
The Coalition is a partnership of community members, suicide survivors, service providers, researchers, and others dedicated to saving lives and advancing suicide prevention efforts in Utah. The Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition is dedicated to long-term suicide prevention efforts.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit the website for more info
UNI Crisis Line at 801-587-3000
Help is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Call the National Suicide Prevention LifeLine at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Suicide is a major public health problem in Utah. Overall, Utah males (34.2 per 100,000 population) had a significantly higher suicide rate compared to Utah females in every age group (11.5 per 100,000 population). Approximately three out of every four suicide deaths in Utah are males. However, Utah females had significantly higher ED visit and hospitalization rates for suicide attempts compared to Utah males. Males were more likely than females to have had a crisis within two weeks of their death such as intimate partner problems, job problems, school problems and criminal problems. Females were more likely to have a diagnosed mental illness, be receiving current mental illness treatment, have a history of mental illness treatment, have left a suicide note, and have a history of suicide attempts compared to males. Suicide is a complex issue, however, and doesn’t have a single cause (ie; recent relationship problems) since many factors contribute to a person experiencing suicidality.
An average of 627 Utahns die from suicide and 4,574 Utahns attempt suicide each year.
Overall, more Utahns are hospitalized or treated in an emergency department (ED) for suicide attempts than are fatally injured.1 On average, two Utahns die as a result of suicide every day and 13 Utahns are treated for suicide attempts every day.
Utah’s suicide rate has been consistently higher than the national rate for more than a decade. Utah had the fifth highest suicide rate in the U.S. in 2017 ages 10 years and older.
The average total charges per year for ED visits and hospitalizations for suicide attempts were $34.8 million for Utahns.
According to recent survey data, youth who were picked on or bullied at school more than once during the past year were 4.2 times more likely to have seriously considered suicide compared with their peers who had not been bullied; among those who had been bullied at least once both at school and electronically, the likelihood was 5.8 times higher.
“We all go through the sludge, and depression never discriminates. Took me a long time to realize it, but the key is to not be afraid to open up. Especially us dudes have a tendency to keep it in. You’re not alone.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Actor
Protective factors are conditions or attributes in an individual, family, or community that increase the health and well-being of children and families. Protective factors may reduce suicide risk by helping people cope with negative life events, even when those events continue for a period of time. The ability to cope or solve problems reduces the chance that a person will become overwhelmed, depressed or anxious.
Receiving effective mental health care or substance abuse treatment
Positive connections to family, peers, community, and social institutions that foster resilience.
Restricted access to highly lethal means of suicide, such as guns or pills
Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent handling of disputes
Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation
Suicide is a complex behavior and generally cannot be attributed to a single cause or event. Research has found that approximately 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental health or substance use disorder at the time of their death. Suicide is also often preceded by a lifetime history of traumatic events. Several other factors that put a person at increased risk for suicide may include:
Alcohol or drug abuse
Diagnosable mental health disorder
Easy access to lethal methods, such as guns or pills
Family history of suicide or violence
Lack of social support
Loss of a family member or friend, especially if by suicide
Physical health problems like chronic pain or traumatic brain injury
Relationship or school problems
Stressful life event or loss
Screen time was also identified as a risk factor—students who reported playing video games or using computers for non-school related activities (social media, etc.) for three or more hours a day were twice as likely to have considered suicide compared to those who had two or fewer hours of daily screen time.
“It took me a while to get my stuff together to go, ‘You know what? If you’re not happy, you have to do something about it. Just to admit that you are feeling this way is a huge step. To claim that, to say, ‘Why do I feel dark? Why do I feel unhappy? Let me do something about this.”
Wayne Brady, Comedian
Ways to Help Someone
Take any warning signs of threat of suicide seriously.
If you are seeing warning signs, ask the person directly if they are thinking about suicide. Asking does not increase risk of a suicide attempt.
Do not leave the person alone.
Listen without judgment. Gently guiding them to talk about their past or current reasons for living may be helpful.
Remove guns or pills to prevent a suicide attempt.
Call a therapist or your local behavioral health authority to request a crisis appointment. Visit dsamh.utah.gov/crisis-hotlines-2 for more information. You may also call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) to ask for help and get advice on what to do next. Work with a counselor to create and implement a plan to keep the person safe.
If the person has a weapon or is not responding to attempts to contact them, call 911 and request a Crisis Intervention Team officer to do a welfare check.
Support the person in receiving ongoing mental health treatment including medications, talk therapy, and self- help as appropriate.
If you or someone you know is in a life threatening emergency or in immediate danger of harming themselves, call 911.
For questions about health information and resources for programs within the Utah Department of Health, please call our Health Resource Line at 1-888-222-2542. The Health Resource Line is staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The hotline employs bilingual staff and has access to over-the-phone interpretation for more than 150 languages.