NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — National Suicide Prevention Week is Sept. 4-10.

According to a news release, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Behavioral Health Division wants to remind North Dakotans about available resources that can help someone who might be struggling with a behavioral health concern and to encourage people to have authentic, caring conversations about suicide and mental health.

Recent HHS data shows that death by suicide was the second leading cause of death among North Dakotans ages 14-34 in 2020.

North Dakota’s suicide rate has increased more than any other state from 1999-2020 according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“North Dakota continues to be impacted by the loss of individuals who die by suicide,” said Laura Anderson, assistant division director. “We all play an important role in connecting people who may be struggling emotionally or experiencing a difficult time in their lives to services and supports that can help them.”

Help is a phone call away

North Dakotans are encouraged to call or text the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline if they are having thoughts of suicide, a mental health or substance use crisis, emotional distress, or if they have concerns for a loved one who may need crisis support.

As the national launch of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline continues to roll out, North Dakotans can also call 211 for crisis help.

All calls are answered 24 hours a day. FirstLink is the centralized call center that answers both 98 and 211 calls in North Dakota.

Callers to 988 or 211 in North Dakota who need additional help to de-escalate a crisis will be assisted by an HHS regional human service center mobile crisis team that will meet an individual where he or she is to provide stabilization, resolution, and other supportive services.

Resources that can help

It’s important to have an open dialogue about suicide and to encourage people to learn about available resources.

The division’s website has information on recognizing warning signs and what to say to someone who may be suicidal.

There are also suicide prevention resources for educators and a free online interactive behavioral health training program called Kognito for all school personnel in public, private, and tribal schools in the state.

Parents can find information on suicide and other behavioral health resources at the Parents Lead website.

This week is also a time to remember those who have died by suicide and to reach out to support the survivors of loss in our communities.

For tips on supporting survivors of loss, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The Behavioral Health Division is responsible for reviewing and identifying service needs and activities in the state’s behavioral health system to ensure health and safety and access to quality services.

It establishes quality assurance standards for the licensure of substance use disorder program services and facilities and provides policy leadership in partnership with public and private entities. For more information, visit the Behavioral Health website.