Rate of suicides rising in Minnesota

The rate of suicides increased by 56% from 2000-17 in Minnesota, says a new report from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

That still left Minnesota with the 14th lowest rate of suicides in the nation. But the state was the 14th highest in terms of rate of increase during those 18 years, according to the health data agency.

The actual suicide rate in Minnesota was 13.8 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017, statistically equivalent to the U.S. rate of 14.0, according to the agency.

Firearms accounted for 45% of suicide deaths in Minnesota in 2017, compared with 50% in 2000.

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In looking at national data, the agency found that the lowest suicide rate among age groups examined was children ages 10-14. But that age group experienced a 70% increase in suicides from 2000-17. The highest suicide was ages 45-54 — 20.2 deaths per 100,000 people.

Time to renew your MinnesotaCare

For those who get health insurance via MinnesotaCare, it's time to renew your coverage, the Minnesota Department of Human Services is reminding people.

MinnesotaCare is one of two government-assisted health insurance programs in the state. Medical Assistance is the state's Medicaid program. MinnesotaCare is for low-income Minnesotans who don't qualify for Medicaid. It may require premiums and co-pays, but still provides a cost break.

If you benefit from MinnesotaCare, you need to complete your annual renewal form by Dec. 15 to ensure coverage into 2020.

You should have received a renewal form in the mail.

If you have questions, call the MinnesotaCare help line at 800-657-3672 or 651-297-3862. It's answered from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Essentia Health has flu shots

If you're a flu shot procrastinator, Essentia Health is reminding you that it has flu vaccinations available at all of its locations.

For a list of locations and their schedules, visit essentiahealth.org/flu.

You can also make an appointment for a flu shot by calling 844-663-1068.

As of last week, only "sporadic" incidences of flu had been reported in Minnesota so far this season, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Nine people had been hospitalized with influenza, none of them in Northeastern Minnesota. There had been no deaths. Those are typical numbers for this early in the flu season.