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Adult men suicides raise Minnesota number to record high

ST. PAUL--A record number of Minnesotans died by suicide last year, leading the state's health commissioner to say Wednesday that more must be done to support people who are contemplating taking their lives.

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ST. PAUL-A record number of Minnesotans died by suicide last year, leading the state's health commissioner to say Wednesday that more must be done to support people who are contemplating taking their lives.

There were 726 suicide deaths reported in the state in 2015, up 6 percent from 686 in 2014. Half of the increase occurred among white men ages 25 to 34, according to the Minnesota Department of Health data released Wednesday.

"We know suicides are preventable," Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said in a statement. "We have seen progress in preventing youth suicide. We must focus on helping adult men and others find hope and help."

Around the country and in Minnesota, annual suicide rates have been trending upward. Minnesota reached an all-time low of 8.9 suicides per 100,000 people in the year 2000, according to the Health Department.

The 2015 suicide rate was 13.1 per 100,000 Minnesotans. The previous highest rate was 13 per 100,000 residents in 1986, which represented 541 deaths. The number in 2015 is the highest since the state Health Department began tracking the statistics in 1968.

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There have been areas of progress, the Heath Department noted. In 2015, the number of suicides decreased for Minnesota residents under age 25 - there were 119 in 2014 and 114 in 2015 - and most prevention efforts in recent years have focused on this age group.

Suicides among groups identified as at-risk in the Minnesota State Suicide Prevention Plan - American Indians and people ages 45 to 64 - were stable from 2014 to 2015.

In Minnesota, suicide was the eighth leading cause of death in 2014. Firearms have continued to be the primary method, according to the state Health Department.

"The big thing is to keep in mind that even though our numbers are increasing, even though we're still concerned about ... 25- to 34-year-old males ..., we know that prevention works," said Melissa Heinen, Minnesota Department of Health suicide epidemiologist. "We know that most people who think about suicide do not die by suicide. ... We need to use our data to try to better target our efforts ... to make sure that we help our families and our communities identify these people at increased risk and find hope and help."

RECOGNIZING THE SIGNS, GETTING HELP

The Minnesota Department of Health says these are warning signs of suicide and, that the more signs a person exhibits, the greater the risk:

-Talking about wanting to die.

- Looking for a way to kill oneself.

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-Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose.

- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.

- Talking about being a burden to others.

- Increasing the use of alcohol or other drugs.

- Acting anxious, agitated or reckless.

-Sleeping too little or too much.

- Withdrawing or feeling isolated.

- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.

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- Displaying extreme mood swings.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 800-273-TALK (8255).

People who exhibit signs of suicide should not be left alone. Those around them should remove firearms, alcohol, drugs and sharp objects. They should take the person to a hospital emergency room or get them help from a mental health professional.

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