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Indicator 2 1 : Suicide attempts

Goal: Minnesotans will be healthy. This goal encompasses both physical and mental health throughout life. It is also aimed at reducing disparities in health status among racial and ethnic minorities. Indicators for the goal deal with both health status and health care.

Rationale: Planning for and attempting suicide are obvious health risks for youth. Such actions are most often indicative of serious mental health problems, and may signal other traumatic life events such as physical or substance abuse.

Suicide attempts, 9th grade

Local data

Data source: Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning

Suicide attempts, 12th grade

Local data

Data source: Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning

About this indicator: This indicator shows that the percentage of ninth-grade students who attempted suicide decreased slightly from 12.3 percent in 1998 to 12.0 percent in 2001. For 12th-graders, the rate increased slightly from 9.9 percent to 10 percent. Neither of these changes is statistically significant.

Females have higher rates of suicide attempts: 22.0 percent for ninth-grade students and 20.5 percent for 12th-grade students. For male students the rates are 13.5 percent for ninth-graders and 14.5 percent for 12th-graders. However, males are disproportionately represented among suicide fatalities, making up approximately 80 percent of suicide deaths in recent years. Suicide was the second-leading cause of death for young males in all racial and ethnic groups. The suicide rate for American Indian males, at 102 per 100,000, was three times higher than for any other racial and ethnic group.

The Minnesota Department of Health goal is to reduce suicide by 20 percent for the general population and for all age, gender and race populations by 2004. Apart from saving lives, the aim is to reduce nonfatal suicide attempts and improve the social and emotional well-being of families and communities.

For comparison: Nationally, the percentage of youth who report that they had thought seriously about committing suicide in the last year has declined from 27 percent in 1990 to 19 percent in 2001. However, the number of youth who reported having attempted suicide has remained steady at 8 to 9 percent. Minnesota's percentage has been consistently higher than the national rates.

Things to think about: Adolescence is a time of great physical, emotional and social change. Most adolescents find their way through these years with the support and guidance of caring families, schools and communities. Yet others may not be as successful and may become involved in risky behaviors that result in harm.
Studies indicate that the most promising way to prevent suicide and suicidal behavior is through the early recognition and treatment of depression and other mental illnesses.

Technical notes: Collected in the 2001 Minnesota Student Survey, this data measures the percentage of students who answered "yes" to the question, "Have you ever tried to kill yourself?" The data from the survey is available by gender, and grouped by those who answered: "Yes, during the last year" and "Yes, more than a year ago."


  • Child Trends DataBank,
  • Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning, Minnesota Student Survey. 2001.
  • Minnesota Department of Health, Healthy Minnesotans, Minnesota Public Health Improvement Goals for 2004,
  • National Institute of Mental Health,
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General,

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