Minnesotans like to kill themselves.

Last April, City Pages wrote a story looking into the connection between a crappy economy and people killing themselves. Turns out, the link is kinda sorta true.

From ace reporter Erin Carlyle:

Though journalists are loath to report it--extensive media coverage of suicide has been linked to copycat deaths, so there is a natural reluctance to dwell on the details--there is no doubt that Minnesota's suicide rate is on the rise. Preliminary numbers from the Minnesota Department of Health indicate that last year's suicide rate was 11 people per 100,000--the highest since 1986. While the national suicide rate climbed just 4.2 percent from 2000 to 2005 (the most recent national data available), Minnesota's rate skyrocketed 15.7 percent during that period. And it's only getting worse. In the last two years, the state suicide rate in Minnesota is 23.6 percent higher than its 2000 low.

"Everyone who works in this field is extremely concerned. We're really in uncharted territory--as in the Great Depression," Dr. Dan Reidenberg says.

Reidenberg cautions people against blaming the rising suicide rate directly on the economy. The truth is that plenty of people lose their jobs and don't kill themselves. In fact, when the financial crisis hit hardest last year, the state's suicide rate went up just a tick, rising 3 percent over 2007, when economic conditions were far more stable. Clearly, the financial crisis has not caused an epidemic of suicide.

Today, the Strib examined the issue, yielding similar results:

But in this decade, it has been climbing back up each year, hitting 11 deaths per 100,000 in 2008, a preliminary figure.

Numbers for the nation were available only up to 2006, when the national rate was 11.15 per 100,000 people. That year, the rate was 10.5 for Minnesota.

Experts aren't directly linking the poor economy to the growing suicide rate, because, they say, motives are usually far more complex than job loss, foreclosure or mounting bills. Coroners, state health officials and experts don't usually analyze suicide victims' life circumstances to determine what factors were at play.

Sheesh, all this talk about suicide is bumming us out. Time for some Elliot Smith.

*above photo by mangpages

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