Suicide deaths in South Dakota hit an all-time high last year, and it coincides with an increase in calls for help.
Prevention calls handled by the Sioux Falls helpline have nearly doubled in recent years, including calls from those at risk and calls from friends and family concerned about a to be expensive.
While South Dakotas are more likely to seek help than a few years ago, the need for more resources remains, said Sara Lindquist, executive director of the Sioux Falls office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. .
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Lindquist said.
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What the numbers show
The Helpline Center handles calls from South Dakota to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
The calls handled by the agency increased by 43% between 2014 and 2017.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Health reported 192 suicide deaths in South Dakota last year, a 36% increase from 2014. This is the highest number on record. in the state.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in South Dakota. It is the third leading cause of death among children aged 5 to 14 in the state and the second leading cause of death among young adults aged 15 to 24, according to five years of data collected by health officials of State.
It’s not just South Dakota
The rising suicide rate in South Dakota and efforts to turn it around mirror what’s happening in the United States, state epidemiologist Josh Clayton said. There is no single reason for the increase, he said, although risk factors for suicide include mental health, substance abuse, and problems at work or in personal relationships.
“There are a lot of factors that come into play,” Clayton said.
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Similar to South Dakota, the rest of the country has shown a greater willingness to call for help. The national phone service received more than 2 million calls in 2017, according to a USA TODAY report released this week.
Higher call volumes are a sign of progress, said Janet Kittams, president of the hotline. This means people know about the service and are ready to ask for help, she said.
The hotline responded to 2,135 calls last year.
“We are very happy that people are calling us from the start,” Kittams said.
What prevention looks like in South Dakota
People who contact the helpline through the national prevention line receive an assessment. Helpline staff then develop a plan for the caller or affected person and connect them with the local resources that best meet their needs.
The helpline works with providers in Sioux Falls such as the Avera Behavioral Health Center and Southeastern Behavioral Health and maintains a database of local psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors to determine the best way to provide care.
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The state Department of Human Services in April unveiled a program designed to reduce youth suicide with a marketing campaign targeting South Dakota teens. A website for the BeThe1SD campaign has videos and information on how to recognize the signs that a classmate is in danger, or how to find help.
NAMI Sioux Falls also offers a number of mental health programs for families and individuals designed to prevent or prepare for crises, Lindquist said.
One of its goals is to make it easier for people who are in pain to find help.
“We have to let people know that there is a need,” Lindquist said. “Sometimes when you don’t let people know that there is a need, it gets ignored. “
For confidential suicide prevention help, call 1-800-273-8255