Suicide rate rising in MN

The suicide by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain Friday, just days after fashion designer Kate Spade’s, is renewing attention to mental health.

New figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that suicide rates have risen in 49 states over the past two decades.

Between 1999 and 2016, suicide rates in Minnesota increased across age, sex and racial groups. 

In 2016, 745 suicides were reported in Minnesota. That continues a trend that began after 2010 when the number of suicides was 606.

Public health officials say early intervention, including a voice on the other end of the phone line, can drastically reduce the chance a person will actually go through with an attempt.

"Mental illness is the underlying factor in 90 percent plus of suicides," said Lawson.

As someone who lives with depression, Lawson says it’s not something you can "snap out of."

"It’s a really dark time. It’s a difficult time. You’re often hopeless, you’re sad. You don’t feel like yourself," she said.

Reports show suicide rates have been going up in rural areas of Minnesota.

"As with the financial pressures and with a community that, you know, people know one another but maybe don’t feel comfortable talking about what they’re experiencing emotionally and not reaching out for help."

But a state crisis hotline is shutting down at the end of the month after failing to receive its requested funding.   Crisis Connections, Minnesota’s half-century-old hotline was a casualty of budget disputes between Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican lawmakers, leading to the governor’s veto. 

"From a funding perspective, we, we invest in things that are a priority," said Courtney Lawson, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Southeast Minnesota. "The more these hotlines and crisis lines are cut, and the fewer resources there are, the longer wait times happen when somebody is trying to call and reaching out for help, and the fewer things out there."

Lawson believes younger generations will change the stigma attached to mental illness.

"The Rochester and Olmstead Youth Commission is doing a lot around modifying the curriculum that they’re learning in school to discuss mental health and mental illness."

While Crisis Connection is closing, there are still lots of options available.  If you or a loved one is experiencing depression, emotional distress and/or a suicidal crisis, text HOME to 741741 or call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Both are open 24/7, toll-free.

Also, every county in Minnesota has an Adult Mental Health Crisis Response phone line. You can find them here.

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