NDSU Extension - Mercer County


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Burden of Suicide in North Dakota

suicide, suicide death rates, suicidal thinking

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

A recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that suicide death rates have increased across the nation from 1999 to 2016. North Dakota has experienced the largest suicide rate increase within that time frame, with rates increasing 58 percent.

Across the nation and North Dakota, suicide cuts across all ages, demographics and socioeconomic groups, with working-age white men, American Indians and veterans at highest risk. In 2016, 134 North Dakota residents died by suicide.

Suicide has devastating consequences for not only family and relationships, but also society in general. CDC estimates that the average suicide costs the decedent’s family and community $1,164,499 (updated June 2015 based on 2010 figures).

In 2015, 1,870 North Dakota residents called the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline requesting support for suicidal thoughts or actions (reported by North Dakota’s crisis-line service provider, Firstlink Fargo).

If you are concerned about someone, make note of the signs you see in him or her. Pay special attention to signs of suicidal intent or thinking. Here are some signs to watch for:

  • A change in routine or behavior. Stress decreases our ability to cope.
  • An increase in illness, such as chronic headaches, ulcers, backaches, eating irregularities, sleeping disturbances, frequent sickness or exhaustion
  • A change of appearance, both in a person and his or her operation
  • Signs of stress in the children. Often, children will be the “canaries” of the family, providing an early warning.
  • A person’s losses. One loss in a lifetime and the chance of a major depression is 50 percent. Two losses move it to 75 percent, and three losses move the chance of severe depression to 100 percent.
  • Cries of help, such as statements of hopelessness (“I’m calling it quits. Maybe my family would be better off without me. Nothing matters anymore. Things will never get better.”)

If you recognize signs of depression and suicidal thinking in a family member, friend or yourself, call for help. If you suspect someone may be depressed and suicidal, get help:

  • North Dakota Helpline - (800) 472-2911
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - (800) 273-8255
  • Farm Resource Center - (800) 851-4719

Depression and suicidal ideation is not a normal part of aging. For some older adults, physical or emotional pain prevents them from finding fulfillment. If their pain is not addressed, they may attempt suicide.

 Older adults are less likely to act on suicidal thoughts impulsively; therefore, there may be more time to notice warning signs of suicide and intervene.

 NDSU Extension has released a resource on the topic of Understanding Depression in Later Life. This series of 5 short educational videos helps to dispel myths about depression in later life, explores issues related to depression, anxiety, grief and loss, and suicide, and highlights what to watch for and how to find help when dealing with the topic of depression in later life.

 This educational video series can be accessed at the NDSU Extension YouTube channel.

 You may find further resources on this and related topics at www.ag.NDSU.edu/extension

 Source: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/statistics; www.ndhealth.gov;

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