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South Dakota Creates Toolkit to Address Growing Suicide Rate

The suicide rate for Native Americans in South Dakota is two times higher than the rate for Caucasians. (
The suicide rate for Native Americans in South Dakota is two times higher than the rate for Caucasians. (
March 12, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota has created a new toolkit to provide communities with better resources to address the growing number of suicides in the state.

South Dakota had the 13th highest suicide rate in the U.S. in 2016, and it was the second leading cause of death among those age 15-34. Tiffany Wolfgang, division director with the state's Department of Social Services, said the new suicide toolkit allows communities to ask questions and assess their needs.

"What does my area really look like in South Dakota?” Wolfgang said. “What are the steps to build a coalition? What are some of the activities that a coalition can become involved in? What are the trainings that are out there and available, and how do I bring those to my community?"

The new toolkits are available at

Native American residents account for nearly 9 percent of South Dakota's population. And Wolfgang said, as in other sates, suicide rates in those communities are higher than in any other racial or ethnic group.

"The Native American suicide rate is two times higher than the South Dakota Caucasian rate,” she said; “which is something we really want to take a look at and target that population to see what resources we can bring and support."

Suicide is the ninth leading cause of death in South Dakota. And Wolfgang said it's time to normalize the conversation around the issue and encourage communities to discuss suicide signs and risk factors.

"Eighty percent of the suicides were male, 20 percent were female,” she said. “16.1 percent of the South Dakota high school students have considered suicide, which is alarming. And 8.4 percent have attempted, so that's alarming."

South Dakota's Helpline Center for suicide is 1-800-271-TALK. Services are available 24 hours a day.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD