Bill Designating 988 as National Suicide Lifeline Number Has Contributions from Political Science Alum Ryan Leavitt

“Suicide across the nation has become an epidemic, especially with young people,” says Ryan Leavitt (BA ’11), partner at Barker Leavitt and BYU political science alumnus. He served as a lead staffer for the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2018, which led to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ultimately designating the phone number ‘988’ as a connection to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Crisis Center. 

By July 16, 2022, all calls made to the number ‘988’ will be directed to the national crisis center. In Utah, you can already call this number and be directed to lifesaving resources. 

“Right now if someone experiencing a mental health emergency needs assistance, the lifeline number they dial to get help is really long. People who are having a hard time are not going to know where to get help,” says Leavitt. “The idea is to have a simple three-digit number like you have for life-threatening emergencies (911) that everyone knows.”

Because the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number isn’t easily remembered, people end up calling 911 instead and then, according to Leavitt, “We are directing resources inefficiently.”

Utah has the fifth-highest suicide rate in the nation and suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control. The state of Utah was in desperate need of more streamlined resources before this bill was proposed. 

Leavitt worked under the direction of former Senator Orrin Hatch and Congressman Chris Stewart, who authored the bill requiring the FCC to change the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline from 1-800-273-TALK to 988.

Leavitt is currently a partner at a Government Affairs and Political Consulting Law Firm in Washington, D.C. and he attributes a large part of his early career success to his educational opportunities starting with his undergraduate education at Brigham Young University. Leavitt earned a degree in political science in 2011. He took full advantage of internship opportunities throughout his undergraduate career, participating in the Washington Seminar and interning with the Utah State Legislature.

Over nearly a decade serving as a Congressional aide, Leavitt advised several of Utah’s Members of Congress, including Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Mike Lee, and Congressman John Curtis among others. Utah State Senator Daniel Thatcher and Utah House Representative Steve Eliason had begun advocating in the Utah State Legislature to designate a three-digit number as the suicide prevention hotline number in Utah. The Utah senators then solicited the help of Senator Hatch and Congressman Stewart to expand their proposal nationally.

Leavitt describes the bill as a “great hope” for those struggling with mental health.

To get help in Utah, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. There is also a crisis text line. 988 is not currently active throughout all the states in the U.S. and 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is still in use. 

If you’re looking for resources other than a hotline, please consider the following: BYU CAPS (for students), the SafeUT app, and webinars from The Hope Squad.

Civic Charity and Bonds of Affection Help Us Moderate and Unify

Latter-day Saints’ greatest contribution to the world is our ability to build community and unity, declares Judge Thomas Griffith in his Constitution Day presentation on Sept. 17 on BYU campus. The event was a Q&A between Judge Griffith and Justin Collings, professor of law. 

Thomas B. Griffith has enjoyed a varied legal career for several decades. From general counsel for BYU to federal judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to Senate Legal Counsel, his experiences give him a deep understanding of the judicial branch. Currently, he lectures at Harvard Law School and is special counsel at the international law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth. Earlier this year, President Joe Biden appointed Judge Griffith to the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court. 

While serving as a missionary in South Africa, Judge Griffith saw the devasting impacts of apartheid. Even more powerful though were the hands of both black and white community members that he saw stretch across barriers to fellowship loved ones and strangers. This gave him an optimistic view of the role of politics. Judge Griffith recognized that politics are for the reconciliation of men. He shared that, “this may be impossible, this may be a pipe dream” but compromise and unity are what make politics work. 

Through serving for many years on different courts and in various positions, Judge Griffith has studied the Constitution backward and forwards. He has recognized that the Constitution, our basis for all this country’s laws, depends on two things that it cannot guarantee: civic charity and bonds of affection. No law can force us to show kindness and this is why it can be so hard to see it in the political sphere. An important consideration about the men who produced the Constitution and is that they spent time getting to know each other well, outside of politics. They had bonds of amity, or friendship, that allowed them to compromise while making laws. 

While we may not be able to ensure that our elected officials get together on the weekends for family dinners, Judge Griffith suggests that we build bonds of friendship in our own community by getting to know those who disagree with us. He shared the admonition from President Dallin H. Oaks in the April 2021 General Conference of the Church that “On contested issues, we should seek to moderate and unify.”

“We are in the most perilous times because of lies and mistrust,” says Judge Griffith. “If you can’t stand the idea of living in the same country as someone who has different ideas than you, then you are a huge part of the problem.”

In this time of distrust and division, Judge Griffith encouraged the audience that we can do our part to create “a more perfect union” by fostering collaboration and a feeling of unity. 

Family Life in a Pandemic

Findings presented by deseret.com/AFS

How has a devastating pandemic, social unrest, and political turmoil affected American families? Though most might assume family life has become more stressful, strained, and shaky in recent months, the 2020 American Family Survey results showed despite “pockets of trouble” in family life, there is still strong evidence of “resilience in the face of adversity”. Despite societal tumult, the state of the American family seems to be better than we might have expected.

Principal Investigators Christopher F. Karpowitz & Jeremy C. Pope and Co-Directors of the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at BYU, designed the 2020 American Family Survey, an annual nationwide poll with 3,000 respondents, to test how families are faring under unprecedented conditions.

The survey was administered between July 3-14, at the height of racial, social, and political unrest, and these are five of the most interesting findings as identified by the Deseret News.

Finding #1: The pandemic is making families stronger.

56% of respondents say the pandemic helped them appreciate their partner and 43% evaluated their own marriages as getting stronger. Nearly a majority, 47% of respondents agreed with the statement that, “the pandemic has deepened my commitment to my relationship.” During the 2020 American Family Survey webcast from the Brookings Institution, Principal Investigator Karpowitz concluded, “We do see resilience in relationships.” In a time of worldly upheaval, some think couples would struggle, but surprisingly 62% of respondents disagreed that the pandemic had made them question the strength of their relationship.

Finding #2: Since the pandemic started, men are more likely to say they struggle balancing work and home life.

With many men and women now working from home, work and home life is all managed under the same roof. 40% of men versus 31% of women say the balance is a struggle.

Finding #3: The role of a parent has become more important

80% of parents say their role as a parent is important to their identity, up from 71% in 2018. Karpowitz said, “We are living in a unique moment, a moment that is priming those identities, a politicized moment. But it’s also a moment where people are especially cognizant of their family relationships.” Panelist and Senior Fellow of Economic and Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution Camille Busette discussed how parenting has increased in importance for respondents, and how greater percentages of Blacks, Latinos and Whites reported that their role as parents is important to their identity than in previous years. Busette discussed how this increase could be attributed to the fact that many parents took on the additional role as educators and invested personally in their children’s education during the pandemic.

Finding #4: Men think they’re carrying their weight around the house.

With many men and women staying home, men say they’re dividing tasks 50-50, but women disagree. Women say it’s more like 65-35.

Finding #5: More extended families are moving in together.

There was a significant increase in percent of families living with extended family. 25% of respondents live with extended family, up from 20% last year.

These findings show the resilient nature of American families, but there is also a relationship between respondents who reported lost income and increased stress in marriage. 24% of those who reported no lost income during the pandemic also reported an increase of stress in marriage as compared to 34% of those who reported lost income of a spouse or partner. Dr. Pope discussed the negative effects of the pandemic on the family: “This highlights that most people are resilient but there are pockets of people who are experiencing trouble and it’s worth us paying attention to.”

Panelist and Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at Brookings Institution Richard Reeves shared his thoughts about the importance of relationships within American families during the pandemic, “The survey shows the need for, and a hunger for a good relational quality of life…I do think that the things that people associate with marriage and family are being more valued, [and] that’s true with extended families coming together [and] people having to spend more time with their children.”

Busette proposed future implications of the survey results, “The picture that’s clear here is that families are very resilient, particularly during COVID. And I think the fact that they have been so focused on their families means that there is an interesting foundation upon which to pursue pro-family policies in the next few years.”

Reeves concluded that the survey shows that “if there’s a piece of hope, maybe it’s that we have a broader recognition of how much our relationships matter.”

Topline reports and data sets are available for download from BYU’s Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy.

Watch the Brookings Institution presentation of the results and expert panel.

See more findings at deseret.com/AFS.

2018 Cutler lecture: Securing marriage with (research-proven) attachment

Research and clinical experience not only tell us that a healthy, happy and passionate marriage is possible, it also shows us how to create it.

The School of Family Life 2018 Virginia F. Cutler Lecture will give you the knowledge and resources to do this within your own family and home.

On Wednesday, October 17, BYU Marriage and Family Therapy professor Jonathan Sandberg will give his lecture “Secure Attachments: The key to a happy, healthy, and passionate marriage” that will highlight current research on adult attachment and romantic relationships. More specifically, Sandberg will review actionable behaviors that we can adopt to promote attachment—a key factor that leads to safety and security in marriage.

Our society may spread the message that having a happy and healthy family is no longer an option, but science says otherwise. You can choose–and act–to have a healthy, happy and passionate marriage.

Learn how to strengthen your marriage and family at the 55th annual Virginia F. Cutler Lecture on Wednesday, October 17 at 7 p.m. in 151 N. Eldon Tanner Building. The event is free and open to the public.

This lecture series is named after Virginia F. Cutler, former dean of the College of Family Living (now the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences). Dr. Cutler spent her entire life educating people on the home and family. She also cared deeply about women and people in other nations, and her career took her across the globe as she served people in Thailand, Indonesia and Ghana.

William K. Wyckoff to Give 2017 Chauncy Harris Lecture

William K. Wyckoff,  a geographer from Montana State University, will give this year’s Chauncy Harris Lecture. The lecture will take place on Thursday, November 16, at 11 a.m. in 250 SWKT. He will speak on “Producing Public Geographics: Creating a Field Guide to the American West.”

william wyckoffDr. Wyckoff studies the cultural and historical geography of the American West. The College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences and its Department of Geography hold this lecture annually, named after Chauncy Harris. Harris graduated from BYU in 1933 with degrees in geography and geology; he was 19 years old at the time. He went on to earn his postgraduate degrees from Oxford and the University of Chicago, later becoming a professor who specialized in urban geography and Soviet geography.

Harris also developed the multiple nuclei model, which theorizes that a central business district is a city’s first core, but that new nuclei develop as various activities spread throughout the urban area over time.

We’ll see you at the lecture!

Benjamin Madley to Lecture on an American Genocide

Genocide, according to the United Nations, is “…acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”  Benjamin Madley, an associate professor of history at UCLA, applies the term to describe the treatment of American Indians in mid-19th century California in his book, An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe. In two weeks, Dr. Madley will lecture at an FHSS event to argue that California Indians didn’t fare much better than Armenians, Rwandans, or even European Jews during the Nazi regime.

You’re invited

  • Who: Dr. Benjamin Madley, hosted by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies
  • What: A presentation on the American Genocide
  • When: Thursday, September 21st, from 11 a.m. to noon
  • Where: B192 JFSB (the Education in Zion auditorium)
  • Why: To discuss important historical events that often lack awareness and understanding

american-genocide
Courtesy of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies.

An American Genocide

An American Genocide, in which Dr. Madley estimates that 9,000 to 16,000 California Indians were killed from 1846 to 1873, has been reviewed by The New York Times, Newsweek, The Nation, and many others. Some of Dr. Madley’s fellow historians have criticized his book for applying the term “genocide” to the conflicts between Americans and California Indians. Gary Clayton Anderson, a history professor at the University of Oklahoma, challenges Dr. Madley’s death toll estimates and characterizes the California massacres as “ethnic cleansing.” The reasoning? Dr. Anderson argues that government policy never supported mass killings, so the genocide label might be inappropriate.

But An American Genocide details murders and massacres carried out by vigilantes, state militias, and the United States Army. Dr. Madley “methodically [gives] examples of each and [tags] the incidents like corpses in a morgue,” according to Richard White of The Nation. A seasoned historian, Dr. Madley also compiles many accounts of the incidents in nearly 200 pages of appendices. Every reader can weigh the evidence and conclude whether or not the incidents were genocidal.

Dr. Madley developed a passion for the interactions between indigenous groups and colonizers during his childhood; he was born in Redding, California, and lived in Karuk Country in northwestern California. Dr. Madley has earned degrees from Yale University and Oxford University, and he has authored many journal articles and book chapters.

bmadley
Courtesy of UCLA’s Department of History.

 

How do you think historians should apply the modern definition of “genocide” to historical events?

Research Logs: Essential When Doing Your Family History

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These days, family history, as we’ve mentioned here, is less about finding information about people and more about organizing the amazing amount of information available to anyone who looks. Access to records has greatly increased in recent years, but it might be a challenge for some to keep track of the research they do to find a particular person or straighten out a particularly convoluted limb of the family tree, even with the many online tools and apps available. One tool that has proven useful for many in past years is logbooks. At their most basic level, logbooks are a simple means whereby people looking for their ancestors can record what searches have been done, what results have been found, and which documents are relevant to the question at hand. Peg A. Ivanyo, in her 2016 Family History Conference class for genealogy beginners said that they can contain notes, citations, stories, and even links to blog posts. But how exactly can they be helpful?

Research logs serve to make things easier. Jill Crandell, a history professor at BYU, says that research logs help to decrease duplication of effort and make one’s searches more efficient. Her own research log website, ResearchTies.com, serves to help people plan their research, catalogue their findings, and record their interpretations. Of research logs, she says, “[they] logs need to be detailed and kept consistently. If they are, the logs will prevent researchers from searching the same sources multiple times, documents will be organized and accessible, and research analysis will be higher quality. Find a research log format that works for you, one that you are actually willing to use to record your work, then use it.”

Many years ago, she was working on tracing a nomadic family who had lived in New York, Canada, and Scotland, with a common name. The man she was researching never identified his parents in any of his documents. To solve the mystery of who his parents were, Dr. Crandell turned to her research log. Through it, she was able to learn that this man had been traveling with other people who had moved to all of the same places as him. By studying the documents saved in her log, Dr.Crandell was able to further this genealogy.

The benefits of doing genealogy, to both the doer and the ancestor, are plentiful, and logbooks are some of the many tools available to anyone who has a desire to connect with those ancestors. Paul Cardall, the noted pianist who spoke at BYU’s most recent Conference on Family History and Genealogy, spoke of the relationship between family history and missionary work. As Mormons, we believe that families can be together after this life. Therefore, it is essential to strengthen relationships with all family members, both those who are alive and those who have died…for Mormons, genealogical research or family history is the essential forerunner for temple work for the dead.”

 

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What Tips to You Have for Doing Family History?

Fun, Prizes, and Free Stuff: Geography Awareness Week is This Week!

Have you ever wanted to go onto the roof of the SWKT? Do you like competitions and prizes? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, then the Geography Department’s Geography Awareness Week is the week-long festivity for you. This is an annual activity meant to make geography fun and interesting for everyone.

The event kicks off on November 14.  Here is a rundown of the week’s activities:

gaw-banner

November 14

Repp-ing It Up

A week long Geoguesser competition. Similar to last year’s geocaching competition, this year’s competition will involve hunting for things to win a prize. This year’s prize, though, will be a national parkannual pass (an $80 value). Visit their booth in Brigham’s Square outside of the Booth in the WILK everyday from 10am to to 2pm with details on and sign up sheets.

geoguesser

November 15

SUPA Day

3pm. Student Urban Planning Association’s Tour of Campus. Conducted by Dr. Michael Clay. Meet at the Geography department office

November 16

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

SWKT Rooftop tours from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

OSM (Open Street Maps)  Lab 2-3 640 SWKT: An effort to ” crowd source digitizing of roads and rural areas.”

November 17

Chauncy Harris Lecture at 11am 250 HBLL

They’ll also have a Bowl of Heaven (1283 N University Ave #101,) fundraiser from 3 -8 p.m., in which 15% of your purchases will be donated to the Geography Club. Be sure to place your receipt in the fundraiser donation box!

November 18

Geography Major Picture: All geography majors gather on the SWKT lawn (time TBA) for free hot chocolate and donuts and picture-taking!

Geoguesser winner announced at 12 noon

This event is bigger than just BYU’s Geography Department; it has in fact been going on around the country for more than twenty years. 

Anyone is eligible to win other prizes as well, including t-shirts, maps, and books by:

Says Geography club president Roman Huerta about the purpose of all of these activities: “We hope to raise awareness of the power of maps and spatial analysis.  When people understand its power and abilities they will use it more and apply it more to various aspects of their studies, research, and lives.  It is super relevant in today’s world, and the more people are using mapping software the more new and creative applications for geography will come forth and continue to grow and advance.”

I Seek Dead People: Family History Education

 

Brigham Young University-Provo is known for several things: being the number one stone-cold sober school, being the largest private religious university in America, and having the only four-year degree program for Family History–Genealogy. In the United States of America, Western Europe, Asia and elsewhere, no other university offers a Bachelor of Arts in this major that educates students in both history and genealogy.

At the recent RootsTech Conference, BYU had a presence, with representation from the Harold B. Lee Library Special Collections unit, the Center for Family History and Genealogy and the Family History Technology Lab as well as the Family History program.

Family History Coordinator and BYU History Professor Amy Harris, who supervises the program’s recruitment and curriculum standards says an event like RootsTech helps raise the profile and recognition of BYU’s commitment to genealogy research and education. “It’s my hope that BYU becomes more associated with high-quality genealogy and family history education and that BYU gets recognition as a major player in the genealogy community,” Harris says.

The Family History program, which receives support and funding on both the department level and college level and from donors, employs 40 students in the CFHG research lab and sends students domestic and abroad for hands-on field research and mentored student learning.

Students at the Center for Family History and Genealogy are currently seeing the migration and impact of their work for people’s use.  In partnership with LDS Church Historic Sites, students are identifying residents of Nauvoo, Illinois, from 1839 to 1846. Each resident, to the extent possible, has records trailing from birth to death. All this data is free and accessible for curious minds and researchers into the history of the Nauvoo community.

The findings can be located on FamilySearch’s Family Tree. Complete research logs along with other discoveries are just within a mouse-click reach. Learn more about the Nauvoo Community Project that is dedicated to academic genealogical research.

The Family History and Technology Research Lab also has multiple projects on the line like Relative Finder that allows you to uncover how you are related to your everyday associates: co-workers, prophets, historical figures…you name it. FHTR is always developing the latest in creative, fun applications for family history, so keep checking!

 

Top Five FHSS Studies of 2015: New Findings on Important Relationships

The faculty and staff of BYU’s College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences are passionate about improving the understanding of how people work, how families work, and what makes societies tick. We spend a lot of time researching, teaching, and writing about these things. Other people seem to be interested in those things as well, as witnessed by the fact that five of the top-10 most read stories produced by BYU News in the last 12 months are stories about research done by faculty in our college. We’re proud of their great work, and excited to see the effects of it in peoples’ lives. Here are those five stories, in order of Facebook likes:

5. Prescription for Living Longer: Spend Less Time Alone (598 likes):

Holt-Lunstad, Julianne Cropped

Research from psychology professor and lead study author Julianne Holt-Lunstad shows that loneliness and social isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity. “We need to start taking our social relationships more seriously,” she said.

The study, published in the Perspectives on Psychological Science, took into account that loneliness looks different to different people. Someone may be surrounded by many people but still feel alone, while others may purposely isolate themselves because they prefer to be alone. The effect on longevity, however, is much the same for those two scenarios.

 

4. Frenemies: Ambivalent Marriages are Bad for Your Health (690 likes)

BYU psychology professor and lead author Wendy Birmingham published

Birmingham, Wendy

a study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine in May that found that couples in ambivalent relationships experience higher blood pressure than their supportive-couple counterparts. This means that their relationship has both high levels of positive and negative elements, similar to what some would call “frenemy” relationships.

Birmingham remarked that previous studies about health and marriage look at marriage quality uni-dimensionally, qualifying it as either supportive or not supportive. This study takes into consideration realistic relationships that aren’t always perfect, but aren’t always awful either.

The study was quoted in Time, New York Times, Deseret News, KSL.com, and Details magazine.

6614968881_5cf95a5b60_b I against I via Flickr Raul Lieberwirth
Courtesy of Flickr.

3.  Most of America’s Poor are not Unemployed (3,221 likes)

Sociology professor Scott Sanders says the findings of a study he co-authored with researchers at Cornell and LSU dispel the notion that most impoverished Americans don’t work so they can rely on government handouts.

Sanders, Scott

“The toxic idea is if we clump all those people together and treat them as the same people, then we don’t solve the real problem that the majority of people in poverty are working, trying to improve their lives, and we treat them all as deadbeats,” Sanders. Science magazine says the data from this study is relevant to the upcoming presidential election, as candidates discuss ways to help the working poor move out of poverty.

 

 

 

2.  Parents’ Comparisons of Siblings can Become Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

“Parents’ beliefs about their children, not just their actual parenting, may influence who their children become,” said BYU professor and lead author Alex Jensen. The study, published in June in the Journal of Family Psychology, looked at 388 teenage first- and second-born siblings and their parents from 17 school districts in a northeastern state. The researchers asked the parents which sibling was better in school. The majority of parents thought that the firstborn was better, although on average, siblings’ achievement was pretty similar.

 

Now, drum roll please… the study that garnered the most attention on BYU news channels was about…elementary school lunches?

1. Eat School Lunch AFTER Recess

6239623842_6fa315afc5_b school lunch via flickr USDA.jpg
USDA Photo by Lance Cheung via Flickr.

This study was shared by over 4,000 people on Facebook, and cited in USA Today, The Washington Post, the New York Times, Time magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Yahoo News, CBS News, the Salt Lake Tribune, LiveScience, Deseret News, and NPR. What was it that was so important? It was the finding that when recess takes place before kids sit down to eat lunch, instead of after, fruit and vegetable consumption increases by 54%.

“Recess is a pretty big deal for most kids, said Joe Price, BYU economics

Price, Joseph

professor. “If you have kids choose between playing and eating their veggies, the time spent playing is going to win most of the time.”

Price is the lead study author and collaborated with Cornell’s David Just for the paper in Preventive Medicine. Their sample involved almost 23,000 data points. Price and Just noted that, “increased fruit and vegetable consumption in young children can have positive long term health effects. Additionally, decreasing waste of fruits and vegetables is important for schools and districts that are faced with high costs of offering healthier food choices.”

 

 

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