Updated: 5:45 p.m. | Posted: 3:41 p.m.
The rate of suicide increased significantly in Minnesota in the last several years, according to new data from the Minnesota Department of Health.
Data analysis by the department shows that suicide was up by 5 percent overall in 2017, over the previous year. But while suicides by women dropped significantly, the number of men who took their own lives jumped by 9 percent overall, and by 18 percent in the Twin Cities over those two years. Gun suicides by white men in the metro area rose by a third in 2017 alone.
The data also shows a sharp spike in Native American suicides over the ten years from 2008 to 2017, up by nearly two-thirds in the latter half of that decade. The data also show that the recent American Indian suicide rate in Minnesota is nearly twice the rate of American Indians nationwide.
Daniel Reidenberg, executive director of Bloomington-based Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, said the numbers aren't surprising.
"It's not that Minnesota hasn't been paying attention to this. They have. We've had a state task force for many years. There's been state funding. There has been activities for 20 years, consistently, in suicide prevention," Reidenberg said. "The problem is that it hasn't been commensurate with the need."
Minnesota Health commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a statement Monday the numbers show Minnesota needs to continue to invest in suicide prevention efforts, make crisis services available and curb access to firearms and other means of suicide.
Reidenberg urges taking seriously the danger of suicide. He said help is available by text message.
"They can text hello to the National Crisis line, the crisis text line, at 741741. Just text hello and start a conversation with someone," Reidenberg said.