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Utah Opioid Task Force Convenes, Says Farewell to DEA District-Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser

November 25, 2019

Today, the Utah Opioid Task Force convened to discuss the opioid crisis in Utah and to consider new programs and resources.

Miss it? Listen to the audio here:

Trauma and Suicide Screening and Response

Dr. Brooks Keeshin with the University of Utah and Primary Children’s Hospital presented on the link between childhood trauma, suicide, and substance abuse. Keeshin has been working with the Children’s Justice Centers to help screen children at risk and get them the resources they need.

The Appropriate Use of the DEC Exam

Dr. Toni Laskey with the University of Utah and Primary Children’s Hospital presented on her work to create more effective medical exams and care for drug endangered children.

Sober Peer

Ed DeShields presented on Sober Peer, an upcoming app for those struggling with addiction, powered by an artificial intelligence-driven system that measures recovery, predicts outcomes, and suggests “best”, next steps for treatment.

For more information: soberpeer.com.

BluNovus

James Hadlock presented on the need for personal connection in the fight against opioid addiction and mental illness. Additionally, he presented on BluNovus, a company that helps employers connect employees to mental health resources and works to end the stigma.

For more information: blunovus.com

Farewell to DEA District-Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes presented an award to DEA District-in-Charge Brian Besser for his incredible work in the fight against the opioid crisis in Utah and in the Opioid Task Force. Besser will head to Washington, D.C. in a new role in the DEA. We congratulate Besser and thank him for all that he has done. He will be dearly missed here, but we look forward to working with him in his new role.

Far More Than Just an App

November 8, 2019

The following article was originally published in the Fall 2019 Silicon Slopes Magazine.

SafeUT is far more than an app; it is a mental health support system that acts to provide professional help for youth in crisis. The app is a free statewide service providing real-time crisis intervention to Utah’s students, parents, and educators.

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Crisis help can be provided through texting, which factors into SafeUT’s success with youth more comfortable texting than talking on a phone. Use is 100% confidential, and crisis line counselors do not inquire about identifying information except in emergency situations. SafeUT has been recognized nationwide for its effectiveness in saving lives and de-escalating potential school incidents.

SafeUT allows students to open a two-way messaging service with licensed clinicians, call a crisis counselor directly, or submit confidential tips to school administrators on bullying, threats, violence, etc. The app is staffed by trained crisis counselors at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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

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Enrolled schools are listed within the SafeUT app and school administrators are trained to handle submitted tips received through the app. At the end of the 2018-2019 academic school year, 81.73% of all Utah K-12 schools and Universities (including public, private, and charter) have been enrolled in SafeUT. All tips submitted through the app are immediately reviewed by UNI staff. Non-urgent tips are sent daily to the appropriate school administrators, and tips of a more threatening nature (including violence or planned school attacks) are triaged by crisis counselors who may involve law enforcement and administrators to quickly resolve the crisis. During the 2018-2019 academic school year, the SafeUT app received tips about 245 unique potential school threats, which includes reports of explosives, guns, knives, and planned school attacks.

“Since adopting SafeUT in our school, we have not had a student take their own life in over 3 years, I credit SafeUT with that amazing statistic.” – Brian McGill, Principal at Alta High School

PLANS FOR EXPANSION

In 2018, SafeUT expanded to Utah higher education institutions and Utah technical colleges. In 2019, there are plans to expand services to the Utah National Guard and the The SafeUT Commission is currently working with several states to implement similar programs.

University of Utah Health Plans is a proud partner and advocate for the SafeUT program. SafeUT is a phenomenal example of how mental health care is all about meeting those in crisis right where they are.

“Removing the stigma surrounding mental health care by providing better access to mental health professionals and resources is a main priority for us now and in the future. As part of this initiative, we will be the new behavioral health plan provider for Summit County, UT with plans to expand into other counties in 2020.” – Russell Vinik MD, Chief Medical Officer, U of U Health Plans

A HUNDRED THANK YOU’S

“A young LGBTQ+ student came to our booth and whispered to me, ‘Do you actually work with SafeUT or are you a volunteer?’ I responded that I do work here and he continued to tear up and tell me, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, a hundred thank you’s” and proceeded to hug me and continue to thank me. He said he used the app when he was at his lowest and thanks to our advice and resources he has been able to get help and support.” – A SafeUT Worker

Read the article in the 2019 issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine here.

Utah Attorney General’s Office Responds to McCluskey Attorneys’ Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 27, 2019

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE, COUNSEL FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH IN THE MCCLUSKEY LAWSUIT, RESPONDS TO SEPTEMBER 20, 2019 STATEMENT OF MCCLUSKEY ATTORNEYS

SALT LAKE CITY –  Today, the Utah Attorney General’s Office responded to a statement made by the McCluskeys’ attorneys and distributed on September 20. In that statement, the McCluskeys’ attorneys criticized the University for filing the motion to dismiss. As counsel for the University of Utah, the AG’s Office disagreed with their criticisms. The AG’s Office statement reads as follows:
 

The University of Utah and the Attorney General’s Office do not take the position in the motion to dismiss that “every concern expressed in Lauren’s McClusky’s complaint is without merit,” as the McCluskeys’ lawyers claim. Rather, the brief filed with the federal court explains that neither Title IX nor the U.S. Constitution permit lawsuits for money damages when campus police or staff do not prevent a student from being harmed by an intruder on campus. As the motion makes clear, the McCluskeys’ legal theories are unprecedented—no court has concluded that a school is liable under Title IX or the U.S. Constitution in these circumstances. As the University’s attorneys, the Attorney General’s Office is responsible for providing the University with the best legal defense possible.  Filing the motion—a common response to a lawsuit in circumstances like this—is part of that defense.
 
This does not mean that the University did not listen to the concerns expressed by the McCluskey family, or that it is not taking responsibility for its students’ safety. Since Lauren’s death, University representatives have repeatedly met with the McCluskeys and many other campus constituents, and the University has taken specific steps to make the campus safer and to ensure its police officers are more responsive to potential relationship violence, including restructuring the campus police department and providing training to its police officers. The University’s actions show it has taken seriously the concerns raised by Lauren’s murder. 
 
Additionally, the motion repeated the allegations made in the McCluskeys’ complaint and the legal standards applicable to the two legal theories of the complaint. It was not meant to, and did not, blame the victim, dismiss the important issue of campus safety, or minimize in any way the terrible tragedy of Lauren McCluskey’s death. 
 
Filing the motion does not preclude the parties from engaging in further discussions to resolve the case. The Attorney General’s Office and the University look forward to continuing these discussions, while still meeting court deadlines, such as the deadline for filing a response to the complaint. 

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