SD Suicide Numbers Concern to Mental Health Community / Public News Service

PIERRE, SD – Suicide prevention officials in South Dakota are reminding residents facing a mental health crisis that there are resources available, after the state released alarming statistics this month.

The health ministry said that in the first quarter of this year, 59 South Dakotas died by suicide. This compares to 28 over the same period last year. It also allows the state to surpass last year’s total of 186.

Sheri Nelson, director of suicide prevention for the state’s 211 helpline, said in 2020 that many people were feeling an increased sense of mental stress caused by the pandemic, prompting them to rally around. others.

She said that for some, that feeling might be different this year.

“As things open up, they get a ‘I’m living this alone’ feeling again,” Nelson explained.

Nationally, health experts noted similar observations of people supporting each other last year, with Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention data showing nearly 6% drop in US suicides

In South Dakota, the Telephone support center provides 24 hour crisis support throughout the year. It also offers training in the field of prevention.

While going through a global crisis can create greater awareness, Nelson noted that lingering effects can still be felt. She pointed to past events, such as the SARS epidemic or the 2008 financial crisis, when there had been an increase in suicides among certain demographic groups.

“There has been this increase in suicides,” Nelson said. “But the main thing is to let people know that there is help available to them and that they don’t have to go through it alone.”

She added that there still need to be conversations to remove any remaining stigma around someone going through a mental health crisis. Before the 2019 pandemic, South Dakota had the eighth highest suicide rate in the United States.

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