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Minnesota suicide rate spiked in 2017

ST. PAUL — Suicides increased 5 percent in Minnesota last year, prompting state officials to warn of a growing public health challenge and remind residents that there are resources for help.

According to data released Monday, Dec. 17, by the state Department of Health, 783 Minnesotans died by suicide in 2017. That is an increase from 745 in 2016.

The spike in the Minnesota suicide rate was driven by a 9 percent increase in male suicides, statistics show.

Overall, suicide is the eighth-leading cause of death in Minnesota and 10th nationally.

“Minnesota faces a growing public health challenge related to suicide,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a statement. “There are resources available to help those facing a crisis, but these new data show we all need to do more to help.”

Some highlights of the data, which was an analysis by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • The male suicide rate increased 18 percent in the seven-county metro area (from 349 to 406), but remained lower than the Greater Minnesota male suicide rate (14 percent).

  • Firearm was the leading mechanism of suicide deaths. Nearly half of all suicides were by firearm (47 percent), followed by suffocation (30 percent).

  • Suicides accounted for 81 percent of male firearm deaths (338 out of 417) and 56 percent of female firearm deaths (27 out of 48).

  • Since 1999, the Minnesota age-adjusted suicide rate increased 53 percent, from 9.0 per 100,000 to 13.8 per 100,000.

  • Comparing suicide rates by race during the 2013-2017 period, the American Indian population experienced the highest rate in Minnesota and at nearly two times greater than the national rate.

Despite the sobering statistics, there were some declines last year among some Minnesota populations. Females experienced a 10 percent decrease and Greater Minnesota had a 3 percent decrease.

Nationally, Minnesota had the 14th-lowest rate among all 50 states.

While it is natural to focus on the overall numbers, Malcolm said, the health department wants to stress that “suicides are preventable and depression and other mental illnesses that often contribute to suicidal behavior are treatable.”

“Suicide is not inevitable,” she added. “Most people find the hope and help they need to make their way to a brighter future. That is why we must continue to invest in suicide prevention efforts such as access to crisis services, limiting access to lethal means and creating supportive communities.”

To get help

The National Suicide Prevention lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) will route people to the nearest crisis center. Information also is available at save.org.