As the state's suicide rate inches upward, the Minnesota Department of Health is forming a suicide prevention task force that will leverage the expertise and resources of partner agencies and organizations to help those in crisis.
Minnesota had nearly twice as many suicides as traffic deaths in 2011, according to figures released Friday by the state health department. Data for 2012 is not complete, but preliminary numbers show trend lines similar to 2011.
"Depression is a major issue in our community and it must be recognized and addressed," said Minnesota Department of Health commissioner Ed Ehlinger. "We need to do more to prevent suicides."
The task force will include MDH, the Department of Human Services and Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE).
"We all have a role to play in preventing suicide," said SAVE director Dan Reidenberg. "We'll work with state to create new state prevention plan."
DHS commissioner Lucinda Jesson said the task force and the community must address the stigma of mental illness in Minnesota in order to make progress on suicide prevention.
"Different suicide prevention approaches are needed for different groups of people," Jesson said.
Minnesota's suicide rate rose to 12.4 per 100,000 people last year, up from 11.2 the previous year. The health department said 684 people took their own lives in the most recent reporting period, showing a general upward trend after a reduction in suicides in 2009.
"The suicide figures show we have a problem, but suicide is preventable," Ehlinger said. "We'll work together to lower the rate."
Minnesota's suicide rate is higher in men and higher in the 25 to 64 age group. The rate is also higher in outstate regions, with suicides reported in about 14 people per 100,000 in Greater Minnesota compared to about 11 per 100,000 in the Twin Cities metro.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 800-273-8255. The hotline has trained staff available 24/7 to help those in crisis.
WARNING SIGNS OF SUICIDAL BEHAVIORS
- Everyone can play a role in preventing suicide by being aware of the warning signs of suicidal behaviors:
- Talking about wanting to die; feeling hopeless, trapped, or in unbearable pain, being a burden to others
- Looking for a way to kill oneself
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you believe someone is at risk of suicide:
- Ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves. (This will not put the idea into their heads, or make it more likely that they will attempt suicide.);
- Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255);
- Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional;
- Remove any objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; and
- If possible, do not leave the person alone.