As the number of recorded suicides in the state continues to escalate, Gov. Dennis Daugaard is calling on South Dakotans to join the fight by participating in Suicide Prevention Month in September.
“In 2017, 192 South Dakotans lost their lives by suicide. That’s the highest number ever reported in our state,” said Gov. Daugaard. “Suicide is preventable and we can help by starting the conversation, providing support and directing those who need help to services. We hope our schools, churches, families, and community groups will engage in the fight to save lives by leading these kinds of discussions during Suicide Prevention Month this year.”
Since 2004, over 1,700 lives have been lost to suicide in South Dakota. Those numbers have increased each year, with nearly one in six high school students in South Dakota having suicidal thoughts or tendencies, according to a 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
The Governor is encouraging groups across the state to host awareness activities and promote available resources, and to add those upcoming events to the statewide calendar at SDSuicidePrevention.org. Groups can add scheduled activities on the website by filling out the online form under the “Events” and “Suicide Prevention Month” tabs. Local data, prevention toolkits for specific populations, and resources for survivors are also available on the website. Information specific to youth suicide prevention is located at Bethe1SD.com, a campaign launched earlier this year by the Department of Social Services.
“If you are struggling or you believe someone is at risk for suicide, contact a professional immediately,” said Department of Social Services Secretary Lynne Valenti. “If you need help or you know someone who does, you can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). People are available to help 24/7.”
Those experiencing suicidal thoughts can also obtain help 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. For more information about behavioral health services, or to find a Community Mental Health Center, contact the Department of Social Services’ Division of Behavioral Health at 605-773-3123, toll-free at 1-855-878-6057 or online at dss.sd.gov/behavioralhealth/.