Editorial Roundup: Suicide prevention grows in importance

Published 8:50 pm Friday, June 2, 2023

The number of suicides is rising in Minnesota once again after a lull during the pandemic, but it’s important to note that the number of resources is growing and accessing those resources is getting easier.

There were 835 deaths by suicide in 2022, up about 3.3% from 808 deaths in 2021, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. In 10 years from 2011 to 2021, suicide was the eighth leading cause of death in Minnesota and may be part of the reason overall life expectancy is declining, according to the health department.

The suicide rate in Minnesota is 14.3 per 100,000 population, a level near the peak of 14.4 in 2019, which was the highest in the last two decades.

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The department of health considers suicide a preventable public health problem, that mental illness is treatable and recovery can happen. Its 2023-2027 suicide prevention plan calls for a comprehensive approach, including improving infrastructure of suicide prevention, collaboration among communities to set up early intervention strategies and crisis intervention and support for families touched by suicide.

Local efforts at suicide prevention and mental health education also have created a positive impact. Nationally known speakers on suicide have been brought in by the schools and the Greater Mankato Area United Way who have given inspirational talks about their mental health recovery. There have been a number of other outreach efforts, and a local group of professionals have formed a committee to foster mental health efforts.

In December, Blue Earth County offered the first mental health expo, where area mental health providers shared resources with those seeking help. South Central College and Minnesota State University have had several mental health awareness events.

The new 988 suicide prevention line has so far proven more effective in servicing more people and is easier to access. Calls to the line are now answered in an average of 11 seconds instead of minutes, according to a report in the Star Tribune. From July 22 to March, the 24-hour line received 30,000 calls, texts or messages.

Calls to the new 988 line are up 30% in some cases, compared to the previous national suicide prevention line. The line had 154,500 more calls in November, compared to the old line during November 2021. In all, it has taken 2 million calls or texts since inception through earlier this year.

The Veterans Crisis Line 988 + 1 has handled 450,000 calls or texts in the first six months, a 10% increase from comparable time last year.

Research shows that people are less likely to attempt suicide or die by suicide if they are surrounded by a supporting community that cares for and “affirms all community members,” according to the health department report.

The recent trend in suicide shows there remains a strong need for mental health services, raising awareness and reducing the stigma of mental illness. It’s a public health problem that needs the community’s continual support.

You can find mental health resources by Googling “mental health resources + mankato free press” or going to this site: https://www.mankatofreepress.com/news/local_news/mental-health-resources/article_4e4c0286-fb3f-11eb-8e4b-cf780c9a480d.html

For the 24 hour, 7 day a week mental health help line dial or text 988 or to chat go to 988lifeline.org/chat.

— Mankato Free Press, May 31

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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