South Dakota ranks 6th highest in the nation for suicide rates

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - A recent study shows that South Dakota is ranked 6th highest in the nation for suicide rates.

The state reported more than 22 suicides per 100,000 people, as well as an increase of 59% since 1999, making it the 11th highest increase in any state.

Neighboring states like Minnesota and Iowa rank in the 30s. Minnehaha County had seen the number of suicides drop from 36 in 2017 to 27 in 2018.

There are several signs to look for if you suspect a loved one is contemplating suicide. The vital symptoms are withdrawal, feelings of hopelessness, increased use of alcohol or drugs, or giving away prized possessions.

Experts do not have an apparent reason why there is an increase. But, do say many factors play into why people are considering suicide, including people not getting help for mental health issues or a person's background. This year many farmers are struggling with a difficult season. The Helpline Center has a hotline set up specifically for farmers looking to reach out for help.

"We are seeing more farmers that are feeling hopeless because they may lose the farm," Sheri Nelson, Helpline Center suicide prevention director, said. "With farmers, it is tough for farmers to reach out for help because they were raised to be independent and to take care of people. In that situation, we may see farmers become depressed; they may start drinking because they may not have those people to talk to."

Once you or a loved one reach out to either the Helpline Center or the National Suicide Hotline, it will allow the person to speak one-on-one with prevention experts.

"We honestly ask them are you thinking of suicide and because, you know, they are calling in for that purpose," Nelson said. "And so, we talk with them, listen to them, and talk with them about where they're at with things. And then ensure their safety."

September 6th through the 14th is Suicide Prevention Week where the Helpline Center is providing several events throughout the week and weekend. We'll have a link to all the activities here.

If you are someone you know is thinking about suicide, encourage them to reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 or text 2-1-1 to reach the Helpline Center.