Dr. Matthew Stanley

Jackie Hendry

The rates for both suicide deaths and drug overdoses are highest in rural America, and those statistics continue to rise in South Dakota. On Thursday in Sioux Falls, Avera Health and the Department of Justice held a conference to help community members respond to the ongoing crisis. 

This is the fifth year that Avera and the DOJ have partnered for a conference on a particular topic. U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons says this year’s theme suggested itself.

South Dakota Breaks Record for Suicide Deaths in 2017

Jul 24, 2018
South Dakota Department of Health

In 2017, South Dakota saw the highest number of suicides in state history. This is the second time the state has broken its own suicide record in less than five years.

The state Department of Health reports 192 South Dakotans died by suicide in 2017. State epidemiologist Dr. Josh Clayton says the last time the state broke this record was in 2015 with 173 suicide deaths.

“In 2017 we did see about 80% of the suicides from male individuals," he says. "The highest rate of suicides did come among the population of 20 to 24 year-olds.”

Avera Health

Avera Health plans to build an Addiction Care Center on its new campus at 69th and Louise in Sioux Falls. Avera psychiatrist Dr. Matthew Stanley says an estimated 10%-15% of the general population struggles with some kind of chemical dependency.