Minnesota's suicide rate continues to climb, particularly among middle-aged men

Suicide has long been thought of as a concern among teens and seniors, but today, the Minnesota Department of Health released its latest data on deaths by suicide, and confirmed that Minnesota is no exception to a troubling national trend: More Minnesotans, and particularly middle-aged men, are killing themselves.

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Suicide has been on the rise in Minnesota since 2000, and the latest numbers reveal the highest rate in more than a decade: In 2011, 684 Minnesotans took their own lives. That's 13 percent more people than in 2010, with much of the increase coming among men ages 55-59.

Here's another way of looking at those figures: In 2011, Minnesotans were nearly twice as likely to die by their own hand than in a car accident.

Minnesota's numbers echo national data released in May, which show, in one decade, a 28.4 percent increase in suicide among adults, and a 50 percent increase among men in their 50s.

So, why? Suicide is complex and personal, but experts point to a number of issues among the baby boomer generation -- from great expectations, to changes in marriage habits, to rates of gun ownership -- to try to explain the upward swing.

Concerned by the steady uptick -- and by preliminary 2012 numbers that echo 2011's -- the MDH is upping its suicide prevention efforts. This morning, it announced a plan to partner with the Department of Human Services and other agencies to create the Minnesota Suicide Prevention Planning Task Force, which will focus, in part, on ways to help newly high-risk groups, like middle-aged adults.

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