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Utah AG: Best of State 2018

The Utah Attorney General’s Office found itself the proud recipient of multiple Best of State awards this year. Those in the Utah AG’s office work hard to uphold the Constitution, enforce the law, and protect the interests of Utah and its people. Our sincere thanks to all those who give their time and energy to help make our office the Best of State.

The Best of State Awards recognize outstanding individuals, organizations and businesses in Utah. More than 100 judges review the nominations and determine the winners based on achievement in the field of endeavor, innovation or creativity in approaches, techniques, methods or processes, and contribution to the quality of life in Utah.

See below for a complete list of the AG’s Best of State 2018 awards.

Elected State Official: Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes

Military Personnel/Unit: Utah@EASE

Public Safety: Investigations Division, Utah AGO

Public Works: Utah Opioid Task Force

Public/Private Partnership: The Utah Children’s Justice Center Program

Publication: Utah AGO White Collar Crime Offender Registry

State Agency/Office: Utah Attorney General’s Office

Victim Advocacy: Attorney General Sean Reyes

Web-based Community Resource: The SafeUT App

The Utah AGO nominated DEA District-Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser for the following award due to his relentless work in combatting the opioid epidemic that has hit Utah both in the metro and rural areas. We are privileged to call him a partner, colleague, and friend.

Public Safety Officer: DEA District-Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser

Youth Advisors: Teens Changing the World

Monday, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes swore five teens into the Youth Advisory Committee during a ceremony held in their honor for all the tremendous work they have done in the last year.

Affectionately nicknamed the Teen Titans, these five teens have worked closely with organizations such as SafeUT, the Children’s Justice Centers Program, and the Utah Gun Safety Program where they attended focus groups, provided suggestions on how to make things more teen-friendly, and gave feedback on how to interact with teens to make them feel comfortable.

Additionally, during the holiday season in 2018, they assisted law enforcement in Operation Give Back, a day dedicated to identifying and taking care of families in need. The Teen Titans rode along with the Utah Attorney General’s investigators and other law enforcement in delivering gifts and encouraging the families visited.

The Youth Advisory Committee provides invaluable insights into ways organizations can identify with teens and streamline programs and apps to make them not only appealing to teens but also to make them more user-friendly to all age groups.

If you are interested in joining the Youth Advisory Committee, applications will be accepted soon. Look out on our social media and website for future notifications of available applications. More details will follow.

The SafeUT app: together we make a difference

Originally created in 2015 to address the rise of teen suicide in the state, the use of the SafeUT app continues to be an effective way for students to connect with someone who can help. In addition, the ability to send anonymous tips adds one more layer of safety to our schools.

The number of students reaching out increases every year and 2018 experienced the highest rate of use yet.

  • 534 potential school threat tips
  • 218 tips about students with guns
  • 175 tips about planned school attacks
  • 68 tips about “weapons”
  • 61 tips about knives
  • 12 tips about explosives

Additionally, between July of 2017 and October of 2018, clinicians responded to over 1,500 tips or conversations from students who were considering taking their own lives.

For more on the SafeUT app and its impact in Utah, check out Chris Jones’ article from KUTV: SafeUT app is saving lives daily; 1,500 tips on suicide contemplation in 15 months.

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

The SafeUT App is a statewide service that provides real-time interactions straight from your smartphone. Licensed clinicians, from the University Neuropsychiatric Institute at the University of Utah Health, are available 24/7 to respond to all incoming chats, texts, and calls. They provide support and crisis counseling, suicide prevention, and referral services. Additionally, students can submit confidential tips to school administrators on bullying, threats, or violence. 

Visit https://healthcare.utah.edu/uni/safe-ut/ to learn more.

AG Reyes Urges SafeUT App Use & Announces New Features

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 16, 2018

 

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN REYES ENCOURAGES SAFEUT USE IN SCHOOLS,
INTRODUCES NEW FEATURES
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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NOTES:

  1. You can find out more about the SafeUT program here: https://healthcare.utah.edu/uni/programs/safe-ut-smartphone-app/#what. 
  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.

AG Reyes Recognizes World Suicide Prevention Day

SALT LAKE CITY September 10, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following extended statement marking World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th, 2017.
 
“I appreciate the efforts of the International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) and all of its partners to educate the world on what is a global health threat. I join many other voices worldwide in support of raising awareness and resources to prevent a growing number of suicides. In the U.S., suicide is the tenth leading cause of death and a recent CDC study showed an increased suicide rate every year from 1999 to 2014 among both women and men and in every age group except those 75 and older. The rates of suicide for teens and Military Veterans are particularly alarming. Sadly, Utah is no exception.
 
“For the last three and a half years, the Office of the Utah Attorney General has led an effort to respond to increased teen suicide, the leading cause of death of Utah children, ages 10-17. We have teamed with legislators, state agencies, mental health clinicians, suicide prevention advocates, the faith community, educators, law enforcement, parents, and teens themselves to address the tragic reality that far too many of our youth feel there is no hope and life is not worth living.
 
“As we have traveled the state over the last several years, visiting with teens in groups or individually, so many of them have expressed feelings of being alone, judged, or without hope. While adolescence is or was a difficult transition time for nearly all of us, the isolation of today’s youth seems more prevalent and more deeply felt. Other factors like depression, being victims of bullying and abuse, eating disorders, drug use and addictions of various kinds, as well as other behavioral health and safety challenges can increase the risk of suicide among teens. 
 
“Because Utah has one of the highest rates of teen suicide in the nation, my office has been leading the School Safety and Crisis Line Commission which last year unveiled the new SafeUT app. It is currently introduced in schools throughout Utah. Those teens in crisis can now access live trained professionals at any time the way they are used to communicating: through a free app on their smart phones available across Android, Apple or other platforms. With the SafeUT app our kids are never alone. 
 
“We have also worked closely with legislators to create a three digit number similar to 911 in Utah for immediate response to mental health and behavioral crises, including thoughts of or attempts at suicide. This statewide effort has led to discussions and proposed legislation at a national level for a similar 911-type number.  
 
“Like teens, the number of Military Veterans losing their lives from suicide across our nation is staggering. Daily, those losses number twenty or more. Utah has lost its fair share of Veterans who were willing to give their lives for their country and instead lost them battling personal demons and enemies seen and unseen that were often related to their service. 
 
“We can all play a part in reversing Utah’s devastating trend of teen and Veteran suicide by having real conversations with friends, family, and neighbors. These may be difficult and uncomfortable discussions but the alternative–not communicating–rarely if ever leads to positive outcomes. I challenge all Utahns to engage daily in a positive way with teens and Veterans. Say hello. Recognize them. Smile. Be a mentor or friend. Find ways to connect and to serve them. While this is not a panacea or cure-all, it can go a long way to lifting someone out of darkness and despair. Truly, one of act of kindness can be the difference between life and death.”
 
 
 
 
 

 
Key Features of SafeUT
The SafeUT program and app help youth stay healthy and safe in schools by providing high-quality, confidential counseling services. The app’s key features include:

  • Anonymous, confidential, and password protected services
  • Real-time, two-way communication with SafeUT crisis counselors available 24/7
  • Tips can be submitted with picture and/or video
  • Mobile app works with Apple & Android devices

 
SafeUT’s Crisis Services
Safe UT answers crisis calls, texts, and chats – about yourself or someone else – 24/7. These services are anonymous and confidential. Our counseling topics include:

  • Suicide
  • Self-harm
  • Emotional crisis
  • Grief and loss
  • Drug and alcohol problems
  • Mental health
  • Abuse
  • Impact of domestic violence

 

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AG Reyes Statement on National Suicide Prevention Month and the SafeUT App

SALT LAKE CITY September 14, 2016 – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes released the following statement on National Suicide Prevention Month:

“Over the past two years, the Office of the Attorney General has teamed with legislators, state agencies, mental health clinicians, suicide prevention advocates, the faith community, educators, law enforcement, parents and teens to combat the leading cause of death of Utah children, ages 10-17. We can no longer accept the horrible reality that our kids are not only contemplating leaving this life, but actually succeeding in their determination to end it themselves. The shocking tragedy of suicide permeates our state and our children are finding it to be a solution to loneliness, depression, discrimination, anxiety and the devastating pain caused by bullying, harassment, and abuse.

“As I have visited with youth throughout the state over the past two and a half years individually and in groups, I have asked how many of them feel alone, judged, alienated or without hope. I have asked how many have considered hurting themselves or know someone who has or is thinking of ending their lives. I am deeply unsettled and saddened by the response, especially when I see a majority of hands shoot up in a crowd of 500 students.

“Because of this, and the sobering fact that Utah now leads the nation in the rate of teen suicide, I have made it a priority for my office to lead the School Safety and Crisis Line Commission which recently unveiled the new SafeUT app, which is currently being introduced in schools throughout Utah. Those in crisis can now access live trained professionals at any time the way they are used to communicating, through a smart app on their phones.

“Once individuals reach out anonymously through texts, chats or calls, certified clinicians at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) respond with support and crisis counseling, including suicide prevention. Whether a crisis is caused by emotional pain, bullying, relationship problems, or mental health challenges, these dedicated professionals have had great success in helping youth throughout our state feel that someone is listening and that they finally have help to navigate their darkest paths.”


The SafeUT app began rolling out to Utah junior high, middle and high schools in early 2016 and will continue to be implemented throughout the state in the 2016-17 school year. In addition to responding to suicide threats, SafeUT is available for those needing help with self-harm, grief and loss, drug and alcohol problems, mental health, abuse, and domestic violence. Further, the app has a safety tip feature that can be used to submit a tip to a school or to law enforcement.

University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) SafeUT Website Here

C:\Users\DANBUR~1\AppData\Local\Temp\enhtmlclip\app-image-descriptions.png

 

Key Features of SafeUT

The SafeUT program and app help youth stay healthy and safe in schools by providing high-quality, confidential counseling services. The app’s key features include:

  • Anonymous, confidential, and password protected services

  • Real-time, two-way communication with SafeUT crisis counselors available 24/7

  • Tips can be submitted with picture and/or video

  • Mobile app works with Apple & Android devices

SafeUT’s Crisis Services

Safe UT answers crisis calls, texts, and chats – about yourself or someone else – 24/7. These services are anonymous and confidential. Our counseling topics include:

  • Suicide

  • Self-harm

  • Emotional crisis

  • Grief and loss

  • Drug and alcohol problems

  • Mental health

  • Abuse

  • Impact of domestic violence

 

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