Aug 18, 2022 - News

SafeUT app — made for students — saving two lives per day

Illustration of an app-like brain with an alarm icon on it
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The SafeUT app, a state-funded crisis chat and tip line, is on average saving the lives of at least two Utah students per day.

Driving the news: Rachel Lucynski, director of community crisis intervention and support services at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, shared a presentation on the mental health service to lawmakers Tuesday.

By the numbers: Last year, counselors responded to more than 32,000 chats through the app, totaling more than 1 million back-and-forth interactions.

  • Over 6,200 tips were reported through the app last year.
  • Of those, officials responded to about 314 potential school threats or acts of violence and 300 incidents involving life-saving interventions for students at risk of attempting suicide.

Background: The app, which is aimed at K–12 and college students, was launched in 2015 in response to Utah's high suicide rates among children and young adults between the ages of 10–24.

  • Nearly all of Utah's public schools and universities are enrolled in the service.

The big picture: In 2020, suicide was the leading cause of death among children ages 10-17 and young adults ages 18-24, according to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.

Flashback: In the wake of the Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting, Gov. Spencer Cox urged parents and students to download the app.

How it works: The app contains a chat feature that connects users to counselors at Huntsman 24/7 at no cost.

  • Its confidential tip line also allows students, educators and parents to report bullying, suicidal behavior and potential acts of violence or school threats.

What they're saying: "We know that any potential acts of violence usually have underlying mental health implications as well. This allows our students to get connected to the mental health services that they need in order to keep our schools safer immediately and longer term," Lucynski said.

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