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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The findings of a report issued today by the Minnesota Department of Health run counter to the perception of many considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Preliminary 2020 Minnesota Suicide Mortality Report shows 723 state residents died by suicide last year, which was more than 100 below the grim tally from 2019 when the suicide total hit a record high of 830.

“It’s a good sign to see that number drop, but 723 preventable deaths are 723 too many,” said Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “We are not yet sure what impacts the COVID-19 pandemic had on this trend, but it is clear that we must continue to support people and communities to address the causes of suicide.”

Suicide deaths last year declined in nearly every age group, with older Minnesotans the exception. The report shows there were modest increases among state residents 65 and older, while the number involving Minnesotans under the age of 25 dropped from 124 to 98.

Minnesota Dept. of Health
Minnesota Dept. of Health

State officials say the number of suicides in Minnesota has been steadily increasing for the past two decades and last year was the sixth consecutive year the number of suicides has been above 700. The report also notes that, while there was a decline in suicides last year, deaths attributed to alcohol and drug overdoses increased.

“2020 was a year of extraordinary challenges, and the impact to Minnesotans is one we will need to explore on a deeper level,” said Stefan Gingerich, a suicide epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health. “While we are encouraged by the reduction in deaths by suicide this past year, given the high number of suicides each year we must remain vigilant and proactive in our prevention efforts.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To speak with a certified listener, anytime, any day, call 1-800-273-8255.

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