Suicide Prevention Fact Sheet
Suicide results in the tragic loss of human life as well as agonizing grief, fear, and confusion in families and communities. Its impact is not limited to an individual person or family, but extends across generations and throughout communities. The breadth of the problem and the complexity of its risk factors make suicide prevention well suited to a community-based public health approach that engages multiple systems and reaches all citizens.
In May 2001, a comprehensive National Strategy for Suicide Prevention was released under the leadership of former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher . This seminal document was followed by the publication of Reducing Suicide: A National Imperative by the National Institute of Medicine . Since then, public health and mental health professionals have worked to identify and/or develop proven effective practices to prevent suicide .
In 2000, at the request of the Minnesota legislature (Ch. 245, Art. 1, Sec. 3), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) issued a report on suicide in Minnesota and, together with a large group of stakeholders from around the state, developed a state suicide prevention plan. The plan includes specific recommendations from the Commissioner of Health as well as suggested strategies recommended by the ad hoc advisory group. The original report and updates issued since its publication are available online at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/mentalhealth.
In 2001, the Minnesota Legislature began providing funds to MDH for suicide prevention. Budget allocations have fluctuated over time. During the 2008-2009 biennium, MDH received $478,000 for suicide prevention that was augmented by $200,000 in federal funds from the Department of Human Services. This funding allows MDH to provide information to the public and grants to local communities for the implementation of proven effective prevention strategies. These grantees:
- Provide education, outreach and advocacy services to populations who may be at risk for suicide;
- Educate family members, spiritual leaders, coaches, employers, school staff, students and others on how to encourage help-seeking; and
- Educate populations at risk for suicide on the symptoms of depression and other psychiatric illnesses, the warning signs of suicide, skills for preventing suicides, and making or seeking referrals to mental health care.
Current grantees are located in Beltrami County, Carlton County, the Metro Area, and Leech Lake reservation. In addition, Suicide Awareness Voices for Education (SAVE) receives a grant to conduct statewide public awareness and technical assistance activities.
Why is suicide prevention important?
In Minnesota, in 2007, 571 persons died by suicide. Minnesota’s suicide rate has risen from 8.9 per 100,000 in 2000 to 11.0 per 100,000 in 2007.
More than 90 percent of suicides are associated with diagnosable and treatable mental illness and/or alcohol and substance abuse . As many as 10 percent of people who die by suicide do not have any known psychiatric diagnosis. As a result of significant advances in the identification of social, cultural, and psychological factors that contribute to suicidal thinking and self-injury, suicide is now understood as a preventable public health problem--it is rarely random or inevitable .
Minnesotans can take measures to prevent suicide. There is a clear need to identify high risk populations, reduce known risk factors, and build on strengths and assets in individuals and communities—approaches commonly utilized by MDH to promote health throughout the state. In times of economic crises and increased social stress, these programs are even more vital.
- The number of Minnesotans who died from suicide is nearly five times higher than those who died from homicide. In 2007, 571 people died from suicide, compared with 118 who were homicide victims.
- Of the 571 people who died from suicide, 39 were children and adolescents age 10-19; 137 were young adults (age 20-34); 170 were individuals 35-49 years of age; 151 were between the ages of 50-64; and 74 individuals were age 65 or older.
- Suicide was the second leading cause of death for 15- to 34-year-olds; the third leading cause of death for 10- to 14-year-olds; and the fourth leading cause of death for 35- to 49-year-olds.
- In 2007, persons aged 50-64 years had the highest suicide rate of all age groups, at 16.1 per 100,000 people.
- The suicide rate among American Indians is approximately two times higher than that of any other racial or ethnic group .
The 2007 Minnesota Student Survey demonstrated troubling trends among youth:
- 25 percent of 9th grade students in public schools reported that they had thought about killing themselves at some time in their lives; and
- 20 percent of 9th grade students in public schools reported hurting themselves on purpose at some time in their lives.
Students in alternative schools are at particularly high risk. In 2007, about 30 percent of students in public alternative schools or area learning centers reported hurting themselves on purpose at some time in their lives, and nearly 40 percent reported having suicidal thoughts at some time in their lives .
For more information
For more information, contact:
Phyllis Brashler, Ph.D.
Primary Mental Health/Suicide Prevention Coordinator
Minnesota Department of Health
1. US Department of Health & Human Services. (2001). National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Rockville, MD: Author. Available at http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/SMA01-3517/.
3. Proven effective suicide prevention programs are available online at the Best Practices Registry, http://www.sprc.org/featured_resources/bpr/index.asp.
6. These and other related statistics are available at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/chs/annsum/index.htm.
7. Minnesota Student Survey statistics are available at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/chs/mss/statewidetables/index.html.