PIERRE, S.D. – The Department of Social Services and the Department of Health, in partnership with the South Dakota Helpline Center, developed and created toolkits for communities to engage in suicide prevention.

“Suicide does not discriminate and can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender or ethnicity,” said Department of Social Services Secretary Lynne Valenti. “Suicide deaths are on the rise, and communities play a critical role in suicide prevention.”

Each toolkit has a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention and is targeted to a specific audience or activity. Toolkits available at include Building a Coalition, Employer Toolkits, Native American Toolkits, Healthcare Toolkits, Senior Care Toolkits and Military Member and Veteran Related Toolkits.

“The step-by-step guides in each toolkit give communities the resources they need to get the conversation started to address suicide,” said Secretary Valenti. “Suicide deaths are preventable, and communities can help by creating community coalitions that can review and evaluate local data and develop suicide prevention action plans.”

Suicide is the ninth leading cause of death in South Dakota, and the second leading cause of death for individuals ages 15 to 34.

“Preliminary data for 2017 shows the number of suicide deaths in South Dakota will surpass the previous record high of 173 suicide deaths that occurred in 2015,” said Department of Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon.

In addition to the toolkits, the website lists additional information on the warning signs, how to get help, support groups and upcoming suicide prevention trainings. Individuals in need of help are encouraged to call the South Dakota Helpline Center at 1-800-271-TALK (8255). Services are available 24/7.

For more information about behavioral health services, or to find a Community Mental Health Center in your area, contact the Department of Social Services’ Division of Behavioral Health at 605-773-3123, toll-free at 1-855-878-6057 or online at

BHSU-Rapid City to host Bully Prevention and Intervention lecture by internationally renowned researcher

Dr. Dorothy Espelage. (submitted photo)

November 6, 2017

SPEARFISH, S.D. – Internationally known researcher and speaker Dr. Dorothy Espelage will deliver a lecture on “Bully Prevention and Intervention: Translating Research to Practice” at Black Hills State University- Rapid City room 112 on Nov. 13 at 4 p.m. All community members, including practitioners, educators, parents, and youth are invited.

“Preventing bullying and adverse outcomes associated with it, like depression and suicidal behaviors, is a public concern among our youth, but it is a problem that needs to be addressed by all community members,” says Espelage.

The event will be a lecture and informal colloquium hosted by Youth Voices in Prevention, Rapid City Area Schools, and BHSU-RC. The public is invited to attend and learn more about issues that impact all aspects of our community.

“If you interact at all with youth in your community then you owe to yourself and them to learn about the challenges that youth are facing at school and online as it relates to bullying,” says Espelage. “Once we understand these challenges then we can help these youth overcome them.”

Espelage is a professor of psychology at the University of Florida. She was the recipient of the APA Lifetime Achievement Award in Prevention Science and the 2016 APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy.

For more information, contact Youth Voices in Prevention at or call 605-381-2568 or Jacob Hamik, admissions coordinator at BHSU-RC, at or 605-718-4194.