PIERRE — Suicide is a preventable public health problem, and Gov. Kristi Noem wants anyone who is struggling to find the help and resources they need. That is why she has proclaimed September as Suicide Prevention Month in South Dakota.
“Talking about suicide isn’t always easy or comfortable, but it definitely is a conversation that is needed,” said Department of Social Services Secretary Laurie Gill. “We want to encourage South Dakotans to talk about suicide, whether they are contemplating it, know someone in crisis or are concerned about it in their community. Starting a conversation about suicide can help save a life.”
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in South Dakota but is the leading cause among those ages 10 to 19, according to data from the Department of Health. The suicide rate among South Dakota’s Native American population was 2.5 times higher than among the white population in the 2011-2020 period.
“Suicide is a preventable public health problem, and we can all play a part in keeping suicide from happening in South Dakota,” said Department of Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon. “By talking about suicide and the complex risk factors that lead to it, we can help destigmatize seeking help.”
South Dakotans are encouraged to learn five simple action steps can help prevent suicide:
1. Ask the question — It’s OK to ask, “Are you thinking about suicide?”
2. Be there — Be there physically or by phone.
3. Keep them safe — Take steps to separate the person from the situation or anything they could use to hurt themselves.
4. Help them connect — Contact family, friends, teachers, coaches, church members or anyone who can help, including the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
5. Follow up — Check in on a regular basis to show you care, and have a plan in place if you can’t reach them.
“Preventing suicide is up to each of us — starting a conversation about suicide in your community, school, family, social circle, team, workplace or on social media can help save a life,” said Department of Tribal Relations Secretary Dave Flute.