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Suicide Rates on the Rise in Minnesota

December 27, 2018 06:36 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Nearly 800 Minnesotans died by suicide in 2017, up five percent from the previous year.

But the trend has been growing upward for some time now.

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“We know the rates have been growing up and what that means for us as, as a state it could mean a few different things number one, we're getting better at reporting so that could tie into why we see rates rising, but it also is pointing to the issue that suicide is a real health crisis here in Minnesota as well as the United States,” said Cassandra Linkenmeyer, Minnesota Area Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Some groups, women, in particular, have seen decreases but overall, the trend points upward.

“That’s a person every 12 hours here in the state,” Linkenmeyer said.

And the “why” is tough to answer.

“Some of those things can be mental illness that’s untreated, substance use disorder that’s not treated, as well as sort of life stressors,” said Melissa Heinen, a suicide epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health.

“There are a lot of people that don’t necessarily reach out to the services or even know that there are services out there,” said Stephanie Miller, a clinical social worker at Mayo Clinic Health Systems Austin.

Linkenmeyer said that despite the increase, there’s hope.

“In the last month or so the federal government President Trump signed into law more support for mental health, but specifically for the suicide prevention hotline -- making sure that this is a hotline that's going to be federally funded,” she said.

While the stigma around mental health has decreased, she said it’s still there.

“As a country, as a culture as a community we need to talk about suicide and we need to talk more about mental health and how we can see those numbers start to go down,” she said.

And there are resources – the national suicide prevention lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

Warning signs of suicide can include talking about feeling hopeless, increasing use of alcohol or drugs, sleeping too much or too little, or displaying extreme mood swings. 

KAAL-TV

Copyright 2018 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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