In July, the federal government launched a national 988 dialing code for suicide prevention and 24/7 crisis support. Since the number was implemented, calls to the four centers Minnesota qualified counselors for suicide support and resources increased by 44%, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
Minnesota also saw a 173% increase in web chats since last January and a 250% increase in text messages to 988. In total, Minnesota received 33,887 calls, 4,099 chats and 1,306 texts to prevention resources suicide in 2021.
Suicide, or death by intentional self-harm, has been on the rise in Minnesota over the past 20 years. 2021 was the seventh consecutive year in which more than 700 Minnesotans have committed suicide. Each year, Minnesota healthcare providers treat more than 10,000 self-injury or suicide injuries.
According to the CDC, suicides account for two-thirds of firearm deaths nationwide. The Minnesota Reformer first reported in September that, unlike homicides, nearly 60% of gun suicides take place in greater Minnesota, where the gun suicide rate is nearly twice as high. than in the Twin Cities subway. Women make up 19% of firearm homicide victims and 9% of firearm suicide victims in Minnesota. The median suicide victim in Minnesota is white, male, and nearly 50 years old and the typical homicide victim is black, male, and nearly 30 years old.
The Rand Corporation has published a review of research (also cited in the Reformer) indicating that the policies most likely to reduce gun violence nationwide include child access prevention laws, waiting, bans based on domestic violence charges and background checks.
“We know the past few years have been incredibly difficult mentally, emotionally and physically for many Minnesotans,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcom said in a statement. “Please…check with the people in your life and consider reminding them that the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available for anyone in need of crisis or mental health support.”
Action = Change
From the Minnesota Department of Health:
Promote 988 and other crisis services. Bring suicide prevention training to your school, faith community, workplace or other community. Share messages and resources about suicide prevention through social media using the Suicide Prevention Awareness Month messaging toolkit. Promote other programs within the community that encourage positive healthy activities and places to connect.
Minnesota’s four 988 call centers are Carver County Health and Human Services, Mental Health Crisis Program; First call; FirstLink; and Greater Twin Cities United Way.
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is one of many ongoing MDH initiatives to prevent suicides, including mental health training for school staff and the Zero Suicide initiative. Minnesota began offering Kognito’s at-risk mental health training free of charge to school staff in May 2020. To date, 757 students from eight school districts have completed Kognito Friend2Friend.
Another initiative is Zero Suicide, which is a framework for improving suicide and self-harm care in health care and behavioral health clinics and organizations. This initiative helps identify people with suicidal thoughts and connects them to resources and treatment. It also aims to ensure that clinicians and staff receive adequate training in suicide prevention and intervention. In Minnesota, 36 healthcare and behavioral health systems have committed to adopting the Zero Suicide Framework and have completed Zero Suicide Initial Training.