Rising Suicide Rates Require a Multifaceted Approach to Prevention

Article Body

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  September 13, 2018

CONTACT:  Dr. Joshua Clayton (Joshua.Clayton@state.sd.us), (605) 773-3737



Rising Suicide Rates Require a Multifaceted Approach to Prevention


PIERRE, S.D. — Suicides rates have been rising in recent years in South Dakota. In 2017, 192 South Dakotans died by suicide, the most ever reported. Suicide was the ninth leading cause of death among all South Dakotans and the second leading cause of death among individuals 15 to 34 years old.


“Suicide is a leading cause of death in South Dakota—and it’s a tragedy for families and communities across the state,” said Kim Malsam-Rysdon, Secretary of Health. “From individuals and communities to employers and healthcare professionals, everyone can play a role in efforts to help save lives and reverse the current trend.”


Mental health conditions are often seen as the cause of suicide, but suicide is rarely caused by any single factor. In fact, according to a recent Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), more than half of people who die by suicide are not known to have a diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Other problems often contribute to suicide, such as those related to relationships, substance use, physical health and job, money, legal or housing stress. However, pinpointing these factors is often difficult.


“Recently, South Dakota was awarded funding from the CDC to participate in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS),” said Dr. Joshua Clayton, state epidemiologist. “This new tool will provide us with a clearer understanding of the circumstances surrounding violent deaths such as suicide.”


In coming years, data from NVDRS will be used to gain insight into possible contributing factors to suicide. In addition, the system will provide communities and organizations with important information to help them develop and tailor prevention efforts. Starting this fall, all fifty states now participate in NVDRS, the only state-based reporting system that collects data on violent deaths and their circumstances.


South Dakota has resources available to help individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts and support for those who have lost a loved one to suicide. Individuals in need of help are encouraged to call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Services are available 24/7. Help can also be obtained by contacting any medical provider such as a family physician, psychiatrist or hospital emergency room, as well as a Community Mental Health Center or other mental health provider in your area. If you believe someone is at risk for suicide, contact a professional immediately.


SDSuicidePrevention.org also provides communities and individuals with access to local data, prevention toolkits for specific populations as well as resources for survivors. For those who have lost a loved one to suicide, a list of support groups in South Dakota is also available.




Reducing completed and attempted suicides through statewide and local efforts is one objective of the Department of Health’s 2015-2020 strategic plan, http://doh.sd.gov/strategicplan