Here is a statistic that might shock you: Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in South Dakota, but it is the number one cause of death among people in the state ages ten to 19.

Thomas Otten is the Assistant Vice President for Avera Behavioral Health and it is part of his job to raise awareness about suicide in South Dakota, in hopes of preventing more unnecessary deaths.

He joined us to explain why suicide prevention organizations in the state, including Avera Behavioral Health, are encouraging people to “Ask the Question” and hopefully, save a life.

Signs to watch for:

Avera encourages the public to speak up and get help if they see the signs that someone might attempt suicide, which include but aren’t limited to: 

  • Expressions of hopelessness or feeling trapped 
  • Comments about feeling empty or having no reason to live 
  • Increase in drug and alcohol use 
  • Loss of interest in things they used to enjoy 
  • Going through a current crisis or significant life change, such as legal issues or financial problems 

Resources are open 24/7 for immediate access: 

  • 988 – Call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for immediate help for you or someone you love. 
  • 800-691-4336 – Call this Avera Behavioral Health Urgent Care number to find behavioral health services to fit your needs, whether that’s outpatient or inpatient care. 
  • Behavioral Health Urgent Care – If you live in Sioux Falls, go to the Behavioral Health Urgent Care during a mental health crisis. 
  • Emergency Department – If you don’t have a specialized urgent care, go to your local emergency department for immediate help. 
  • Behavioral Health Navigation – If not in crisis but seeking information on behavioral health services, reach out to Avera Behavioral Health Navigation at 605-322-5142. 

Avera is dedicated to providing the best possible health care to their patients. If you have a question about Avera’s Behavioral & Mental Health services or would like to find a location nearest you to schedule an appointment, you can find out more online at You can also call them in Sioux Falls at 605-322-5142. You can reach Avera Behavioral Health Urgent Care Toll-Free at 1-800-691-4336. If you or someone you love is in danger, please call the nationwide 24/7 crisis line by dialing 988.

“Ask the Question: is an initiative fully funded by generous donations to the Avera Foundation because every life is valuable and everyone can make a difference. Avera has also created helpful tip sheets for information about how to “Ask the Question”, as well as suicide prevention information. You can learn more at