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Suicide deaths on the rise again in Minnesota

Minnesota’s suicide rate rose last year to its previous high, marking the second straight year of increases after a dip early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suicide deaths rose about 3% between 2021 and 2022 to 835, according to Minnesota Department of Health data released Thursday.

Last year, suicide deaths occurred at a rate of 14.3 per 100,000 people, which was close to the previous high rate of 14.4 in 2019.

Over the past 20 years, the number of suicides in Minnesota has reflected a national trend of steady increase, according to the Department of Health. Figures for 2021 are final while last year’s figures are preliminary.

“Suicide is a significant public health issue involving the tragic loss of life,” said state health commissioner Dr. Brooke Cunningham in a press release. “It is important for us to take a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention that promotes connectedness, belonging and protection from lethal means.”

Last year, men had a suicide rate about four times higher than women, the health ministry said. The age-adjusted suicide rate increased slightly among women in 2022, but men still accounted for a significant majority (about 77%) of suicide deaths – a gender difference that has held for several years.

From 2016 to 2020, women accounted for nearly two-thirds of self-harm or suicide attempts treated in hospital, according to the Department of Health.

American Indians or Alaska Natives had a higher suicide rate in Minnesota than other races or ethnicities in 2021. More recent data by race and ethnicity is not yet available.

Across all age groups in 2022, Minnesotans ages 85 and older saw their suicide rate rise dramatically, from just under 15 per 100,000 population to nearly 25.

Along with the data, the Department of Health on Thursday highlighted prevention resources such as the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline as well as a recently released plan for suicide prevention in Minnesota.

In 2001, Minnesota’s suicide rate was 9.6 per 100,000 people. It generally increased through 2019 before dropping to 13.1 in 2020.

“Death by suicide is one of many reasons why overall life expectancy may be declining, particularly among Minnesota men,” the Department of Health said in a news release. “From 2011 to 2021, suicide, or intentional self-harm, was the eighth leading cause of death in Minnesota.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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