Suicide numbers in South Dakota have increased substantially in recent years. According to a recent report from the Centers For Disease Control, the state's suicide rates have increased 44.5 percent between 1999 and 2016. Experts say there are a number of factors responsible.
Suicide rates have been climbing nationally for a number of years but even higher rates have been seen throughout the Midwest. Doctor Randy Quevillon is the USD department chair of Psychology. He says rural areas see the highest density of suicides.
“This is a pretty big national and state emergency it seems to me," says Quevillon. "The causes are very complex. Among the big things are stress--economic or personal or interpersonal stress. Folks that have money worries or economic hard times, that can make all of those hassles and stressors more difficult to deal with. The rates for rural areas are sometimes higher in terms of suicide risk or certainly completion rates. Figuring into that: most of South Dakota is a professional shortage area for family practice physicians, psychologists. Also, the stigma that is associated with mental health concerns in rural areas is a bit higher."
Quevillon says South Dakota’s Native American youth are particularly at risk. He says reservations carry large suicide rates.
“What you do get on reservations is hopelessness and kind of feeling depress about the future figures in and that can be higher in reservation communities. The poverty rates are higher in South Dakota. That’s one of the reasons that South Dakota has so many of poorest communities in the nation. Native American youth statistically have a higher suicide rate.”
Quevillon says it’s important to let friends and family know they are cared for. He says being aware can be enormously important to someone suffering from suicidal thoughts. Quevillon says there are numerous resources available online for those who are in need.