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January 12, 2018 05:04 PM

State Projects Record Number Of Suicides For 2017

South Dakota set several records in 2017.  Not all of them are good.  

State officials are still waiting on final numbers, but say more people died of suicide last year than ever before. 

Meanwhile, the Helpline Center saw an increase in suicide-related calls last year. 

In 2017, staff answered 2,000 suicide-related calls from across the state. That's about 500 more than in 2016. 

That goes to show a lot of people can be affected by suicide. 

"It's heartbreaking. It's so heartbreaking to hear that other families are going through what my family's had to go through," Angela Drake said. 

Angela Drake's world stopped turning on March 24, 2016.

"She took her life that morning. She had a very long battle with mental health and tried a lot of different treatments and options and medications and unfortunately we just didn't find that right thing for her," Drake said. 

Drake's daughter Brittany would be 19 today.  

"I don't think there's a second in the day where I don't think about her. She's with me everywhere I go and everything I do," Drake said. 

Today, Drake continues to create awareness about mental health and suicide. 

She's not the only one on the frontlines. 

"It's the reason why I'm here..is to help people," Sheri Nelson said.  

Sheri Nelson is the Suicide Prevention Director of the Helpline Center.

She says the suicide-related call volume did go up last year across the state. 

"We see the increase in calls can be a positive thing because we know people are calling to get the help they need," Nelson said. 

Still, there's work to do.

"I think still that stigma surrounding suicide, mental health, addiction that we see sometimes people struggle with getting the help they need," Nelson said. 

Only Nelson and Drake are both here to say if you're contemplating suicide or if you know somebody who is...

"Don't be quiet," Drake.

It just might keep more families from suffering a heartache. 

If you need help, you can can call the Helpline at 2-1-1 or 1-800-273-8255.


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