Critics of the Church have often said that Utah has a high suicide rate, and have blamed this on the stress that being Mormon imposes on its members. These claims are incorrect. The whole Mountain West has had a high suicide rate historically, but Utah has the lowest rate for that region.
In addition to basic statistical information on suicide offered on an LDSFAQ page of questions about Mormons, I have now learned of a scientific study published in 2002 about male suicide in Utah. The reference is Sterling C. Hilton, Gilbert W. Fellingham, and Joseph L. Lyon, “Suicide Rates and Religious Commitment in Young Adult Males in Utah,” American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 155, No. 5, 2002, pp. 413-419. The abstract, available online, follows:
Previous studies have used population data to demonstrate an inverse association between suicide rates and religious commitment. This report examines Utah suicide rates for young men aged 15–34 years, stratified by their membership in and commitment to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), the predominant religion in Utah. All state death records for males from 1991 to 1995 were obtained and linked to LDS church deceased membership records to obtain a measure of religious commitment that is not self-reported. Religious commitment for LDS church members was determined by age-appropriate priesthood office. Of the 27,738 male deaths reported, 15,555 (56%) linked to an LDS church record using a probabilistic linking program. Using active (high religious commitment) LDS as the reference group, the less-active (low religious commitment) LDS group had relative risks of suicide ranging from 3.28 (ages 15–19 years) to 7.64 (ages 25–29 years); nonmembers of the LDS church had relative risks ranging from 3.43 (ages 15–19 years) to 6.27 (ages 20–24 years). Although the mechanism of the association is unclear, higher levels of religiosity appear to be inversely associated with suicide.
In other words, young less-active Mormon males and non-Mormon males had a vastly higher suicide rate than active Mormons, ranging from over three times to over six times higher, depending on the age group. The fruits of activity in the Church, contrary to the claims of anti-Mormons, appear to include a greatly reduced tendency to commit suicide, at least for young males.
(Why the West has high suicide is still unclear to most social scientists and was unclear to me, until I moved to Wisconsin, land of beauty, cheese, and the Packers, where believers and non-believers alike just have a lot more to live for.)