A new report from the Utah Department of Health found that Utah showed no significant increases in suicides, mental distress, or drug overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic, unlike other states.
Public health experts say the state’s existing mental health and substance use resources may be part of the reason why.
“The pandemic has impacted Utahns in significant ways, yet this report shows Utahns are resilient,” said Gov. Spencer Cox. “Despite these difficult times, there is hope. We are not powerless to the difficult circumstances around us. I encourage all Utahns to continue to lift each other up and provide the support we all need during these challenging times.”
The report, “Social and Behavioral Health During COVID-19”, shows that deaths from drug overdoses remained stable throughout the first 39 weeks of 2020 and were consistent with drug overdose deaths in 2019. The number of drug overdoses reported to emergency departments remained stable through the first 50 weeks of 2020.
According to the report, preliminary data also shows that suicide ideation and suicide attempts have remained stable in that state, with the number of suicide deaths in 2020 being consistent with the previous three years.
The report said that Utahans did not report any significant increase in mental distress between March and August when comparing information from 2020 to that of 2019. Additionally, calls to the Suicide Prevention Line in Utah increased during the first 10 months of 2020, but researchers said this was consistent with growth rates in previous years.
“This data suggests that interventions and treatment during the pandemic have remained as effective as in previous years, even in the face of a sudden shift to primarily telehealth and services,” said Kimberly Myers, assistant director of the Utah Department of Human Services Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. “If you are struggling, get help. It’s safe to go to your doctor, urgent care, primary care provider, pharmacist, and therapist. Nearly every health care provider has the ability to meet with patients virtually.”