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Youth Suicide Drives Down Utah's Child Health Ranking

A new report shows that Utah is not making the same progress on children’s health insurance coverage or child death rates as other states. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the state dropped from 7th to 27th in this year’s child health ranking.

Utah now has one of the lowest rates of child health insurance coverage in the nation and is last for Hispanic children. Terry Haven is Deputy Director for Voices for Utah Children. She says the other major reason why Utah dropped in its child health ranking is an alarming rise in youth suicides here.

“We’ve improved in some of the reasons why children die, but in terms of suicide rates, we’ve almost doubled since 2008. So that’s the big huge issue that we’re looking at,” Haven says. She says the reasons for this are many, but LGBT youth in particular are bombarded with harmful messages which she says can be compounded by social media. “It’s like a perfect storm for what’s happening to our fragile youth who are, you know, having some issues and they’re not getting the services they need to take care of it.”  

Haven says Voices for Utah Children will be advocating for early behavioral health interventions. While Utah slipped in its child health ranking, it held steady at second in the country for family and community, and eighth for economic well-being. The state moved up for education from 29th to 21st.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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