Adults in North Dakota least likely to consider suicideFew North Dakotans have seriously considered killing themselves or tried to kill themselves compared with the national average. This is unusual because adults in the West and the Midwest - Minnesota included - are more suicidal than average, according to a new national study.
By: Tu-Uyen Tran, Grand Forks Herald
A new national study suggests that adults in North Dakota are among the least suicidal people in the country.
Few have seriously considered killing themselves or tried to kill themselves compared with the national average. This is unusual because adults in the West and the Midwest, Minnesota included, are more suicidal than average.
The study, released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the first to offer data for individual states, which the authors said should help health care providers focus better on problems their populations face.
Some 92,300 adults were surveyed in 2008 and 2009 for the study.
Obviously, the study does not include those who succeeded in killing themselves.
While there is no CDC data on deaths by suicide for the survey period, trends leading up to those years are contradictory. Midwesterners, Minnesotans included, are less likely to die from suicide compared to the national average while North Dakotans were more likely.
Nationally, 3.7 percent of all adults have seriously considered suicide and 0.5 percent have tried to kill themselves.
For Midwesterners, those rates were 4.3 percent and 0.5 percent.
North Dakotans were significantly less suicidal; 2.7 percent considered suicide and 0.3 attempted suicide, ranking respectively fifth and 13th nationwide.
Minnesotans were closer to the Midwest average; 4.3 percent considered suicide and 0.8 percent attempted suicide.
The least suicidal were Georgians; 2.1 percent considered suicide and 0.1 percent attempted suicide.
The most suicidal were Utahans and Rhode Islanders. More adults in Utah considered suicide — 6.8 percent — but fewer attempted suicide — 0.5 percent.
In Rhode Island, 6.2 percent considered suicide and 1.5 percent attempted suicide.
Age, sex differences
Broken down by specific populations nationwide, of those older than 30, 3.1 percent considered suicide and 0.3 percent attempted suicide. Among men, 3.5 percent considered suicide and 0.4 percent attempted suicide. Among women, the respective rates were 3.9 percent and 0.5 percent.
North Dakotans older than 30 were least suicidal; 2.5 percent considered suicide and less than 0.1 percent attempted suicide, the lowest in the nation for their age group.
Among North Dakotans 18 to 29, 3.4 percent considered suicide and 1.1 attempted suicide, both lower than average for their age group.
Among men in North Dakota, 2.6 percent considered suicide and 0.2 percent attempted suicide, both lower than average for men. Among women in North Dakota, the rates respectively were 2.7 percent and 0.4 percent, both lower than average for women.
Among Minnesotans older than 30, 3.5 percent considered suicide and 0.8 percent attempted suicide, both higher than average for their age group.
Among Minnesotans 18 to 29, 7.3 percent considered suicide, worst than average for their age group, and 0.6 percent attempted suicide, better than average for their age group, and better than North Dakotans of the same age group.
Of Minnesota men, 3.9 percent had considered suicide and 0.4 percent attempted suicide, respectively worst than and equal to the average for men.
Of Minnesota women, the rates respectively were 4.7 percent and 1.1 percent, both worst than the average for men.
There may be some link between economic trends and suicide, according to Dr. Alex E. Crosby, one of the authors of the study.
In general, the unemployed are more likely to die from suicide or to attempt suicide than those with jobs, he said. When the present recession began in December 2007, a person died from suicide every 17 minutes, he said, but that rate had changed to one every 15 minutes by the end of 2008.
Suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States in 2007. It was the 10th leading cause of death in 2008.
Still, the state of the economy isn’t always the most important factor.
In 2009, North Dakota’s unemployment rate was 4.3 percent, which seems to confirm the trend. But Georgia’s unemployment was 9.6 percent, one of the highest in the nation.
Crosby said suicide is a complex human behavior that often has many underlying causes, such as mental illness and employment, family and relationship problems.
Selective migration, the demographic composition of the population and social factor such as divorce rates and access to health care are thought to contribute to suicidal behavior.
When it comes to deaths from suicide — that is those the surveys would not have caught — the picture is very different.
In the five years ending in 2007, the latest available CDC data, suicide took the lives of 159,700 American adults, a rate of 14.38 per 100,000.
Alaska had the highest rate of death from suicide with 26.62. Washington, D.C., had the lowest with 6.98.
The rate for Minnesotans was 13.33 and for North Dakotans 16.65.
Rhode Islanders, contrary to the survey, had among the lowest rate of death from suicide at 10.08. Georgia’s rate was higher but still above the national average at 13.97.
The suicide rate for minors shifts the trends somewhat. A total of 4,700 minors killed themselves in the five-year period, a rate of 1.29 per 100,000.
Alaska still had the highest rate at 5.5. North Dakota and Minnesota had significantly higher than average rates with 3.16 and 2.03, respectively. New Jersey had the lowest rate at 0.73.
American Indian and other indigenous youths, for whom death by suicide are major health risks, contributed significantly to several states’ high suicide rates. In Alaska, 71 percent of minors who killed themselves were Indians or Alaskan natives.
In South Dakota, Indians made up 48 percent of deaths from suicide. That state was second only to Alaska with a youth suicide rate of 4.26.
In North Dakota, Indians made up 24 percent of deaths from suicide. In Minnesota, they made up 7 percent.
This story includes material from McClatchy Newspapers.