AP NEWS

Suicide rate reaches all-time high in South Dakota

July 23, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The number of suicides in South Dakota increased to an all-time high last year, while calls to a suicide prevention help line have also climbed dramatically, according to state officials.

The South Dakota Department of Health reported 192 suicide deaths in 2017, a 36 percent increase from 2014 and the highest number ever recorded in the state. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in South Dakota and the second most common cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24, according to data collected by state health officials.

The suicide rate increase can’t be attributed to a single reason, though risk factors include mental health, substance abuse and problems at work or with personal relationships, said Josh Clayton, the state’s epidemiologist.

Prevention calls handled by the Helpline Center in Sioux Falls have nearly doubled in recent years, the Argus Leader reported. The center answered 2,135 calls last year.

Workers at the center, which manages South Dakota calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, determine a plan to connect the caller or person of concern with local resources, including behavioral health centers, psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors.

Higher call volumes are a sign of progress because individuals know about the service and are willing to seek out help, said Janet Kittams, the helpline’s president.

“We’re very happy to have people call us on the early side of things,” Kittams said.

There’s still a need for more resources, said Sara Lindquist, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Sioux Falls office.

“We have a lot of work to do yet,” she said.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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This story has been corrected to show that suicide is one of the leading causes of death in South Dakota, not the leading cause of death.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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