ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP/WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) says the state's suicide rate is inching upward.
The rate rose to 12.4 per 100,000 people last year, up from 11.2 from 2011. The new rate mirrors the national average.
The MDH says 684 people killed themselves in the most recent period. To put that number in perspective, Minnesota had 368 traffic-related deaths in 2011. The data shows a general upward trend apart from a short-term dip around 2009.
Health officials say the state rate is higher in men and higher in the 25-to-64 age group. Baby boomer males, aged 55-59, have accounted for the biggest increase.
The suicide rate is greater outside the metropolitan area — about 14 people per 100,000 in Greater Minnesota, compared to about 11 in the seven-county metro.
Contributing factors include mental illness, substance abuse, the poor economy and financial troubles. Ninety percent of people who commit suicide suffer from mental illness and drug addiction, both of which are preventable.
The MDH is creating a task force to help inform local governments about how to prevent suicide. They are also pushing for more mental health crisis hotlines.
State funding will also help spread the TXT4Life program, which began in northern Minnesota, throughout the entire state.
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