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Sean D. Reyes
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World Mental Health Day

October 10, 2020

Today for World Mental Health Day, we recognize the importance of looking after our mental health and the mental wellbeing of our loved ones in a year fraught with anxiety, depression, and stress.

This year has been incredibly challenging as our daily lives have been altered considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students have had to adjust to an online format for classes, contact with friends and family have been limited, many workers are facing threats to their livelihoods, and the fear associated with spreading COVID to our loved ones has increased as the cases continue to rise. Many are anxious about the future and worry for the economic consequences of the pandemic, while uncounted friends and family members are faced with the grief of losing their loved ones.

If you are struggling during this tumultuous time, it is normal and understandable. You are not alone in your struggles, and it is okay to ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed, worried, or distressed.

Below are some tips and advice to help you look out for your mental health and help those who may need some extra support:

  • Stay informed – Listen to the advice and direction from local authorities and health officials, and make sure your information is coming from trusted news sources – not just information you get from unverified social media posts.
  • Keep in touch – Make sure you’re keeping in touch with your friends and loved ones, even if you have to be apart. Check in with them and let them know how you’re doing through online platforms or by phone.
  • Keep up routines – Although the world may be constantly changing around you and affecting your normal schedules, try to keep up with your normal routines. Get up and go to bed at regular times, eat meals regularly, make time for working out, and set aside time to do what you love and enjoy.
  • Minimize screen time – Having a constant flow of news throughout the day can make you anxious or depressed. Take breaks from social media and screens periodically.

If you need some extra emotional support, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Reach out to the lines below if you need to talk to someone:

  • SafeUT – Download the free SafeUT app to message a crisis counselor. Available 24/7.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Available 24/7.
  • Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741. Available 24/7.
  • Intermountain Health Care, free emotional health relief hotline – 833-442-2211. Available 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week.
  • University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) warm line – 801-587-1055. Available 8am to 11pm, 7 days a week.
  • University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) crisis line – 801-587-3000. Available 24/7.

Mental health is a priority for Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and the Utah Attorney General’s Office. In June 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously to designate 988 as the new three-digit suicide hotline, following the dedicated efforts of the Utah Attorney General’s Office and partners. This is an incredible step forward for prioritizing suicide prevention and ensuring the well-being of all Utahns and Americans.  

Additionally, we recognize SafeUT and their dedication to providing mental health resources and crisis intervention for Utah’s students and educators throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful for their efforts and encourage you to download SafeUT for free if you have not previously.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office is proud to partner with organizations such as the Jason Foundation, the SafeUT Commission, the University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI), and Life’s Worth Living Foundation. These organizations help raise awareness of the prevalence of suicide in the State of Utah and provide resources and education on suicide prevention.

Resources and Support During COVID-19 for Mental Health Awareness Month

May 6, 2020

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and in a year dominated by a pandemic, it is crucial to be kind to ourselves and vigilant and aware of our personal mental well-being. We should also pay attention to friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors.  We are all in this together. 

COVID-19 has altered our lives, our routines, and created a new normal in our lives. It is crucial that we all take time to acknowledge that fact in order to maintain balance in our lives.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about many changes and the uncertainty has been stressful for many people. Anxiety and unease have been prevalent and with the quick pace of newly implemented protocols and changing environments, uncertainty has followed. As social distancing measures were put in place, many suffered from loneliness and were inundated with an information overload from social media, news, and internet sites.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all suffering from various levels of anxiety, sadness, fear, and loneliness. For those who already struggled with mental health issues, those feelings are potentially more acute and the world may have felt especially difficult and heavy.

Please know that this is normal, and you are not alone. During this pandemic, we want to make sure that you are not just looking out for your physical health, but your mental health as well. Know that there are ways that you can help manage your stress and be attentive to your mental health. We can all weather this storm together.

Below are some self-care tips:

  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Perhaps the most important thing to taking care of you and your mental health is making sure you are getting enough sleep.
  • Stick with your normal routines. Get up when you normally would get ready for the day, even if you are staying at home, and get to bed on time.
  • Take breaks. Step away from your electronic devices throughout the day. Constantly hearing about the pandemic and frequently visiting social media platforms can be upsetting.
  • Stay in touch with others. Just because you are physically social distancing, does not mean you have to mentally or emotionally distance yourself. Stay in touch with friends and family and talk to people you trust about your concerns.
  • Make sure you are getting exercise. Even if it is just going for walks, make sure you are getting up and moving around throughout the day.

Please know that if you need help with emotional support, there are resources available to you.

  • SafeUT – Download the free SafeUT app to message a crisis counselor. Available 24/7.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Available 24/7.
  • Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741. Available 24/7.
  • Intermountain Health Care, free emotional health relief hotline – 833-442-2211. Available 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week.
  • University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) warm line – 801-587-1055. Available 8am to 11pm, 7 days a week.
  • University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) crisis line – 801-587-3000. Available 24/7.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office is proud to partner with organizations dedicated to looking out for the mental health of Utahns including Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition, Nami Utah, Jason Foundation, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Utah Chapter, SafeUT Commission, Life’s Worth Living Foundation, University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI), Veterans Crisis Line.

For more information on mental health and tips to look out for you and others during this time, check out these resources:

Mayo Clinic – COVID-19 and Your Mental Health

University of Utah Health – Coping with Mental Health During COVID-19 Pandemic

Utah Department of Human Services – Your Mental Health and COVID-19

Intermountain Health Care – Emotional Health Relief Hotline

Utah Coronavirus Task Force – Mental Health Resources

Utah Resources for Mental Health and Substance Abuse During COVID-19

April 15, 2020

We recognize that during the COVID-19 pandemic these are difficult times for many people, especially those struggling with substance abuse or mental health. Below are some resources available for individuals, providers, and communities.

Look After Your Mental Health

The Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health provided some helpful tips on ways that you can look after you and your mental health:

  1.   Seek information from legitimate sources and set limits around media exposure
  2.   Take care of yourself (Airplane Rules: Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others)
  3.   Safely reach out to others and support people around you
  4.   Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking; read something good and uplifting
  5.   Acknowledge your feelings, bounce them off a friend or loved one
  6.   Take time to talk to children about COVID-19
  7.   Ask for support, including professional support if needed. Asking for help is a sign of strength; none of us can do this alone.

Read more tips from them on how to manage stress here.

Guidance for Prescribers About Providing Telemedicine

SAMHSA and DEA released updated guidance for prescribers about providing telemedicine to new patients for buprenorphine. Click Buprenophone-Telemedicine for more information. If you would like to know overall information on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s guidelines, please click on Use of Telemedicine While Providing Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) here at MAT Guidelines.

SAMHSA Updates and Resources for Opioid Treatment Programs

The COVID-19 guidance includes approaches for providing pharmacotherapy for opioids use disorder patients exposed to infections and COVID-19, disaster planning, potential flexibility for take-home medication, OTP guidance for patients quarantined at home with the coronavirus, and Frequently Asked Questions: FAQ for OTP Guidance during Quarantine.

Learn more about the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) COVID-19 Guidance for Opioid Treatment Programs here and for overall information about Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health, please visit: SAMHSA Home Page.

Safely Dispose of Your Unwanted Medications

The National Take-Back Initiative where you can safely dispose of your unwanted, unused medications was planned for April 25, 2020, but has been postponed until further notice. If you are in need of disposing of unused, unwanted or expired medication, the Utah Opioid Task Force has free Dispose RX packets they can send to you.

Community Resources

Please check in on your loved ones and be aware of signs of poor mental health and emotional well-being. It’s important we have these types of resources readily available during these times. If a loved one needs substance use treatment, please access:

Here are some other important phone numbers to have and share with your friends, family, and community: 

  • COVID-19 Hotline 1-800-456-7707
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
  • UNI WarmLine: 801-587-1055
  • Domestic Abuse Hotline:  1-800-799-7233
  • Utah Naloxone 385- 495-9050

If you need Peer Recovery Support and Family Support, USARA is functioning with an online presence at

SafeUT Remains Active for Students

The mental well-being of our youth is critical during these times. The SafeUT app is a real-time crisis intervention tool and tip line for students. This resource is fully functioning during current circumstances and can be downloaded here:

You are not alone during these trying times. We are in this together.

FCC Votes to Proceed Designation of 988 as New Suicide Prevention Hotline Number

December 13, 2019

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to proceed with the process of designating 988 as the new, nationwide, 3-digit number dedicated as a suicide prevention and mental health crisis line. This number will replace the current, 12-digit number 1-800-273-8255.

“This designation will help ease access to crisis services, reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health condition, and ultimately save lives,” the FCC said in a release Thursday.

This decision follows a report the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau and Office of Economics and Analytics sent to Congress in August recommending a 3-digit dialing code as the crisis hotline. The report noted a more than 20% increase in suicides in over most of the nation from 1999 to 2019. It also noted increasing suicide rates in Veterans and the LGBTQ community.

“This is 911 for mental and behavioral crises. And this emergency number started right here in Utah, with amazing partners like Senator Daniel Thatcher and this office demanding more be done to address the alarming suicide rates in this nation,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes.

“We couldn’t get it passed at the state level, so we pushed to the federal level. Senator Hatch and Congressman Stewart were our champions. It’s amazing to finally see it come to fruition. It is one of the achievements in public service of which I am most proud.

“A simplified three-digit suicide and mental and behavioral health hotline will make a huge difference when it comes to intervention and prevention. It will save lives! No doubt,” Attorney General Reyes added.

All telecommunication carriers and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol service providers must implement the 988 number within the next 18 months.

The Commission will begin taking public comment on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking following publication in the Federal Register. Following review of that public record, the Commission will move toward final rules.

The change to the 988 hotline will not be implemented for several months. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or contemplating suicide, please use the SafeUT app to speak with a crisis counselor for free or call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

Utah Suicide Rate Decreases for First Time in Over a Decade

November 15, 2019

For the first time in over a decade, Utah’s suicide rate fell slightly in 2019, according to the fiscal year 2019 report of State Suicide Prevention Programs by the state Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. This decrease means that we are doing something right, but the work isn’t done. Now is the time to increase our efforts.

According to the report, the suicide rates dropped from 22.7 to 22.2. “The decrease is not statistically significant nor does it represent a trend change, however, it is worth noting given the year-over-year increase for many years,” said the report. Suicide remains a leading cause of death in the State of Utah. An average of 592 Utahns die by suicide each year, and an average of 4,538 Utahns attempt suicide.

Below is an excerpt from an article written by Marjorie Cortez in the Deseret News: After decade of increases, Utah’s suicide rate dropped slightly in 2018, report says.

At first glimpse, there was a lot of excitement, even tears, when the 2018 data indicated Utah’s suicide rate had not increased over the previous year, said Michael Staley, with the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner.

“Then there was this moment of pause, where we kind of had to look around and say, ‘But what does this mean?’

“I think that is so important to remind folks this is not the time to pack our bags and go home and call this a win. This is the time to double down on what we’re doing because there’s evidence here, even though it’s kind of arbitrary and not causal, but there seems to be some suggestion here that what we’re doing is working,” said Staley, who coordinates suicide prevention research.

Barry Rose, crisis services manager for the University Neuropsychiatric Institute, said the slight decrease “at least indicates we’re on the right track and we’ve made some investments that are paying off.”

Reducing suicide deaths “was really our first major goal, not that our group here is the reason this happened, but we would like to think we were part of it. I think all of us collectively, our goal as the state, county mental health division and everyone involved, is just to see we could stop it from increasing, at least to level off, and continue to work toward decreasing those numbers,” he said.

Much work remains, Staley said.

Suicide is the seventh-leading cause of death in Utah, and the suicide rates in the Rocky Mountain states lead the nation. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Utah’s suicide rate ranks sixth nationally. Montana has the highest rate followed by Alaska, Wyoming, New Mexico and Idaho, according to the foundation.

The most recent data says 6,039 Utahns were seen in emergency departments for suicide attempts, according to 2014 numbers, and 2,314 Utahns were hospitalized for self-inflicted injuries including suicide attempts.

The Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse report also notes that self-reported suicide attempts decreased from 7.1% to 6.9% from 2017 to 2019 after multiple years with increases.

Utilization of the SafeUT app, which provides 24/7 real-time crisis intervention for youths, is also growing. In the month of October, the app received 3,700 tips and chats.

Suicide prevention starts with each of us. Download the SafeUT app, reach out to those around you, listen without prejudice, and offer support.

If you or someone you know is struggling and/or having thoughts of suicide, please reach out. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741), or message a trained crisis counselor through the SafeUT app. These support lines are available 24/7, 365 days a year.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office is proud to partner with organizations such as the Jason Foundation, the SafeUT Commission, the University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI), and Life’s Worth Living Foundation. These organizations help raise awareness of the prevalence of suicide in the State of Utah and provide resources and education on suicide prevention.

World Mental Health Day 2019

October 10, 2019

Today, the Utah Attorney General’s Office observes World Mental Health Day to bring awareness about mental health and to recognize and acknowledge the need to advocate against the social stigma. With this year’s theme placing an emphasis on suicide prevention, we underscore that you are not alone. You are loved and you are greatly needed.

Mental health is prevalent among everyone from all walks of life. People of every race, gender, sexual orientation, age, or socioeconomic status are affected by mental health challenges. According to the Kem C. Gardener Policy Institute’s 2019 report on Utah’s Mental Health System, our country is in the midst of a mental health crisis with increasing suicide rates, untreated anxiety and depression, and a prevalence of serious mental illnesses. Utah has one of the highest rates of suicide in the country, where it is the leading cause of death for Utahns ages 10 to 24. Tragically, Utah ranks the lowest in the nation for mental health, with a higher prevalence of mental illness and lower rates of access to care.

Unfortunately, despite the rising mental health crisis, the social stigma against mental illnesses remains a consistent presence. Ending the stigma is complex and will not happen overnight. While treatment and support are available for those that need it, the lines of communication must be open. The importance and inherent need for an open, understanding mind are more crucial than ever. The first step starts with listening to understand and simply be there for those around you.

For World Mental Health Day, we urge you to listen when someone reaches out to you. We urge you to have those important conversations about mental illness and educate yourself on what mental health is and then help teach others. Additionally, we urge you to be kind to those around you. Everyone is juggling a lot in their lives, whether it be stress, disappointment, grief, or pain, and all those things can add up quickly. Speak and act with kindness.

If you or someone you know is struggling, it is okay to get help. Doctors, counselors, and agencies are there for you with available resources and training. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741), or message a trained crisis counselor through the SafeUT app. These support lines are available 24/7, 365 days a year.

FCC Recommends Three-Digit Crisis Hotline

August 16, 2019

Following five and a half years of hard work and perseverance by the Utah Attorney General’s Office and Utah state and federal legislators, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to move forward with changing the ten-digit national suicide hotline to a three-digit number – 988. The hotline will also be available to those who are struggling with mental health crises of any kind.

Yesterday afternoon, the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau and Office of Economics and Analytics announced that they sent a report to Congress which recommends that the Commission consider designating 988 as a replacement to the current number, 1-800-273-8255.

This follows the 2018 report on the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018 which recommended that a three-digit number should be used for the crisis hotline. Suicide and mental health numbers have increased over the years, causing an influx of callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. According to the FCC, 2.2 million people called the hotline in 2018.

“Our team found that a 3-digit number would make it easier for Americans in crisis to reach someone who could help,” Ajit Pai, the FCC’s chairman, said in an email statement on Thursday night. “If we can stand up ‘988’ nationwide as a way to access suicide prevention services, we believe it could save lives. I’ll do everything I can to move this forward.”

Utah Senator Dan Thatcher first conceived the idea for a three-digit suicide prevention line in 2012, but it didn’t gain traction in the Legislature at that time. Senator Thatcher partnered with the Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, Wade Farraway, Missy Larsen, and others at the Utah Attorney General’s Office in 2014. The group started the SafeUT app as a way to reach Utahns in crisis while still campaigning for the three-digit number. In 2017, the group enlisted the help of Rep. Chris Stewart and Sen. Orrin Hatch, who presented the idea on the federal level. This has led to the recommendation of the three-digit number 988.

The change has not yet been implemented and will have a months-long process. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or contemplating suicide, please use the SafeUT app to speak with a crisis counselor for free or call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

SafeUT App: Fighting Suicide & Mental Illness

June 3, 2019

Inside Digital Health recently covered the alarming rate of teen suicide and mental illness in Utah and how the SafeUT app is looking to change that.

Read excerpts of the article below.

“Two young people are treated for suicide attempt every day in Utah, more than the national average. In 2014, suicide was the leading cause of death for youth ages 10 to 17. In one high school in Herriman, Utah, seven students and one recent graduate died by suicide during the 2017-18 school year. The question of whether suicide prevention efforts are working in Utah is routinely covered in the news. Finding root causes of the increase in suicide and enabling better access to care for vulnerable patients is a top priority — and technology can help in prevention efforts.”

“Adolescents are more likely to share their mental health concerns with someone who is not a close friend or relative; this makes an app ideal to increase accessibility for teens.” 

“Digital health tools like SafeUT app are making prevention more effective than ever in Utah. They offer more resources and facilitate mental health support in a sphere where many youth are already socializing, which is key to connecting them with resources and ultimately providing better solutions for students suffering from depression and mental illness.”

You can read the entire article here.

Photo by Ángel López

Three-digit crisis line on the horizon

At the Utah State Capitol, yesterday, U.S. Representative Chris Stewart hosted a celebration of The National Suicide Prevention Hotline Improvement Act which was signed into law last week. The Trib headline was perfect: Amid tears for the lost, Utah leaders celebrate new law to help create a new national suicide hotline. You can read the article here

Related – Deseret News: A three-digit suicide crisis line could launch next year

This was an emotional event. Rep. Stewart kicked it off by taking a moment to remember those lives that were lost and applauded all who have worked to make a three-digit crisis line a reality.

A Utah idea intended to help 3 million people will now impact the lives of over 300 million Americans of all ages. 

Listen in here. 

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes spoke about why the passage of this act is a game-changer for Utah teens, veterans, and how everyone across the nation will now benefit from it. If you haven’t read AG Reyes’ op-ed on the topic, here’s a link

For those who came in late, the three-digit suicide hotline was the subject of a bill by Utah Senator Daniel Thatcher over 4 years ago. That idea met unexpected political opposition locally, but morphed into the creation of the SafeUT Commission and eventually the popular, effective SafeUT app

At the same time, U.S. Representative Chris Stewart and U.S. Senator Orrin took Senator Thatchers original idea back to Washington, D.C. and the rest is history. 

Thank you for paying attention, and thank you for all you do to guard and protect those around you. 

You can watch the entire conference below.  


Last but not least – thanks, Senator Hatch, for your support from afar!

AG Reyes Urges SafeUT App Use & Announces New Features

August 16, 2018


SafeUT team averages 1,178 students chats per month

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes announced two new features of the SafeUT app and encouraged schools to enroll and participate in a proven resource that helps keep students and schools safe. The new features, just in time for the new academic school year, include a parent/educator button and access to services for higher education institutions.

“The statewide adoption and response to the SafeUT app has been incredibly successful and effective. But there are still some schools that haven’t integrated this lifesaving tool. If your school is not using this, please ask your school leaders to start. Your voice could save a life,” stated Attorney General Reyes. “Students facing all sorts of crises are reaching out for themselves or others and the app is working.”

“To ensure success, we must provide services that are current, relevant, and meeting the needs of the community,” AG Reyes continued. “By expanding SafeUT’s reach to institutions of higher learning, to parents, and to educators in both English and Spanish, we further empower those impacted by mental and behavioral health challenges. Our mission is to save Utahns, particularly youth, before it’s too late. We connect them to people who are available 24-7, who care for them, will fight for them, and lift them through their current struggles toward a healthier future.”

The SafeUT app, launched in 2016, was geared toward elementary, junior high, and high school students struggling with suicide, relationship difficulties, and a variety of other mental and behavioral health issues. Every public school district in Utah is enrolled, but not every school has taken advantage of the SafeUT app and its services. Eleven new schools enrolled in the SafeUT program for the upcoming school year, which means that 77% percent of K-12 schools in Utah are now utilizing the app.

School involvement is a critical step for schools to ensure real-time communication between crisis responders and school administration for quick action. The addition of the parent/educator button provides the opportunity for educators and parents to ask questions, find resources, and submit relevant information to help protect students and schools.

Adding higher education addresses two needs: 1) immediate support for college students who wrestle with similar mental and behavioral health issues, and 2) greater ability for college authorities to respond quickly to potential threats. These new features combined with current services, which now include Spanish capabilities, expand the program’s reach and effectiveness.

During the 2017-2018 school year, crisis counselors at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute fielded over 15,000 texts and over 7,000 tips. The most common topics of conversation were bullying, suicide, depression, cutting, and drugs. Below are last year’s numbers.

  • Chats/Texts
    • 15,313 chats
    • 1,178 average chats per month
    • 316,840 threads (back and forth interaction between a student and counselor)
    • 21 average threads per chat
  • Tips
    • 7,476 tips
    • 575 average tips per month
    • 23,023 threads per chat
    • 3 average threads per chat

The SafeUT program was developed with funding from the Utah State Legislature in collaboration with the Utah Office of the Attorney General, the University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI), the Utah State Office of Education, and the Utah Anti-Bullying Coalition.

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  1. You can find out more about the SafeUT program here: 
  2. The members of the SafeUT Commission include: Ric Cantrell, Utah Attorney General Chief of Staff; Lillian Tsosie-Jensen, Utah Public Education System; Spencer Jenkins, Utah System of Higher Education; Teresa Brechlin, Department of Health; Rep. Steven Eliason, Utah State House of Representatives; Sen. Daniel Thatcher, Utah State Senate; Barry Rose, University Neuropsychiatric Institute; Ammon Mauga, Law Enforcement and Emergency Response; Ruth Wilson, Utah Department of Human Services; Barbara Stallone, Community Member; Pam Hayes, Community Member; and Katherine Rhodes, Utah Attorney General Executive Assistant.