Drug, alcohol, suicide deaths to rise in SD by 31 percent in next decade

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Sioux Falls, S.D. - Drugs, alcohol, and suicide. Death rates from these three things are on the rise. A new study by 'Trust for America’s Health’ said South Dakota could soon have the 30th highest rate in the country. The report found in 2015, out of every 100,000 deaths, 44 South Dakotans died as the result of alcohol, drugs or suicide. That number is expected to rise to 57 by 2025. Sioux Falls officials said they continue to see this increase in South Dakota and they are doing everything they can to slow down this deadly trend.

“When you look at those things that would come together that would create the fatalities, I do believe South Dakota unfortunately has a perfect storm in the many different factors,” Prairie View Prevention Services Executive Director, Darcy Jensen said.

The numbers keep rising.

“It’s a constant battle. We know that it’s on the increase,” Minnehaha County Sheriff, Mike Milstead said.

If the trend continues, South Dakota could see an increase of more than 30 percent in drug, alcohol, and suicide deaths.

“I think as we've seen the availability become more and more prevalent, we've seen that increase or that spike,” Jensen said.

“We like to think that we're in the Midwest so we don’t have these issues, but we're a mobile society. We’re no different than any other part of the country when it comes to these issues,” Sanford Health Vice President Medical Officer, Dan Heinemann said.

“We hope some of these numbers are wrong. We hope that they make a turn in the other direction, but certainly what we’ve been seeing in the last few years, I’m not real optimistic that that’s happening right now,” Milstead said.

South Dakota isn't alone in its struggle to stop this death rate.

“I don’t think this is a one size fits all problem to fix,” Jensen said.

People across the country and here in Sioux Falls are doing what they can to slow down the problem.

“We are working with our clinicians to make sure that they appropriately prescribe. When they identify somebody with a substance use issue, have them seek out and help them to find appropriate treatment,” Heinemann said.

“There’s a lot of things underway. I do think that more money and more effort has to go into the prevention area. I think more money and more effort has to be in that treatment category. Then continue to be aggressive in the enforcement and hold people accountable,” Milstead said.

The study found nationwide, if this trend continues 1.6 million deaths over the next decade will be the result of drugs, alcohol, or suicide. Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska are all expected to see an increase over the next ten years as well.