The Expectation of Perfection


Does the expectation of perfection that teens feel increase Utah’s suicide rate?

Suicide: a very scary and uncomfortable topic that doesn’t get talked about enough. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the suicide rate in Utah decreased by a very small amount. Although some progress is good, in the most recent data from The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Utah is ranked as the 5th highest state for suicide and the highest rate of depression. There are a number of potential factors leading to this data. But it does raise the question, could there be a correlation between Utah’s high suicide rate and the high practice of religion, or are there multiple factors that can contribute. 


Dana Williams, a seminary teacher at Copper Hills High School, believes that there are multiple factors that can contribute to suicide. Williams thinks that a big factor is the expectation of perfection that teens often feel, whether that expectation comes from school, religion, or your family and friends. 


Williams says that when he teaches LDS doctrine, he wants to make sure people know that they don’t have to be perfect. “It’s okay to be human,” Williams says, “the gospel of Jesus Christ is about improvement and making mistakes is okay. In a way, it is a gospel of hope.” 


Angela Beatty, a member of the LDS church and a math teacher at Copper Hills High School believes that the expectation teens feel can sometimes be hard for them to live up to. Beatty believes that teens can often compare their reality to the reality they see on social media and at that point, “reality is not reality anymore.” Because on social media people only post their perfect world, they don’t post the hard times and the bad days that everyone is having. 


Senior at Copper Hills High School and an LDS church member, Kolbee Hancuff thinks that Utah has multiple factors that could be affecting our high suicide rate. Hancuff believes that religion, school, family and friends do have a big impact on teens, but she also believes the weather in Utah may be affecting our teens. With a lot of months in Utah being cold and without sun, depression rates seem to be heightened. High depression rates often correlate with higher suicide rates. 

So, does the high practice of religion in Utah correspond with the high percentage of suicide or is it something different altogether. There is no way to tell for sure, but what we do know is that teens often feel an expectation that they need to be perfect. This feeling can come from not only religion but from school, work, parents and friends. This expectation can often be the thing that tears teens down, but it is important to remember that there is always a reason to get back up. If you or anyone you know are in need of help, the Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.