The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is working with community partners in five regions of the state to reduce youth suicides, the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-24.

In 2016, 111 Minnesotans between ages 10 and 24 died of suicide.

Minnesota has a higher rate than the U.S. average (10.2 per 100,000 versus 9.6 per 100,000) for this age group.

“By focusing on the goal of zero youth suicides, we want to highlight that these tragedies are preventable,” said Jan Malcolm, Minnesota health commissioner. “We believe that by working together with communities we can and must do more to help young people facing severe depression or other mental health crises.”

Communities are working with the MDH community partners preventing suicide program to implement a comprehensive public health approach.

One example of a comprehensive approach in behavioral health and health care is the zero suicide model. This model aims to improve outcomes for people at risk of suicide in health care systems, with a focus on safety and reducing errors.

In addition, Minnesota’s effort focuses on identifying and connecting youth who are at risk with services and building healthy communities that empower and support youth and families.

The program is working with 16 different health and behavioral health care agencies across the state. As a first step, agencies participated in the Minnesota Zero Suicide Academy in February and an additional day in March for Minnesota tribal nations. The suicide academy offered training for those leaders from health and behavioral health care systems. 

Over the course of the next year, participants from the academy will work to implement the zero suicide model within their hospitals and behavioral health care clinics.

The core components of the model include commitment from leadership, standardized screenings and risk assessment, care management plans, data collection, effective treatments and consistent patient follow up, particularly during care transitions.

Area agencies that participated in the academy included CentraCare Health, Lower Sioux Indian Community Health and Human Services and Western Mental Health Center.

The Minnesota Department of Health received a federal grant to invest $3.6 million in comprehensive suicide prevention for youth in the several regions to include the southwestern region (Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Redwood and Yellow Medicine counties).

The health department reminds Minnesotans that if they are concerned about a loved one, they can call the National Suicide Prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Image courtesy of Internet Public Domain