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Police: Oakdale principal died of self-inflicted gunshot wound

The suicide rate for middle-aged men has been on the rise.

The man found dead in a Woodbury Park Wednesday morning was Oakdale Principal Joe Slavin, police confirmed Thursday.

According to a preliminary report from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"This is a very difficult time for everyone that knew Mr. Slavin," Woodbury police said in a statement. "The family is grateful for the outpouring of support, asks that everyone is respectful of their privacy as they grieve this sudden loss."

Wednesday, the Woodbury Bulletin reported police found the body of a man in his mid 40s at Carver Lake Park about 8:30 a.m.

Later that day, the South Washington County district released a short message saying the 45-year-old had died unexpectedly.

Slavin was the principal at Skyview Middle School in Oakdale. He lived in Woodbury, though, and served on the school board in that district, the South Washington County schools.

He was married with three daughters.

Suicide rate on the rise for middle-aged men

In a report looking at suicide rates from 1999 to 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found last year that the number of people in the U.S. dying by suicide is on the rise. Over the course of 15 years, it increased by 24 percent.

The suicide rate for men between 45 and 64 has especially increased. As Men's Health noted, it went up 43 percent in that period.

A medical expert told the magazine there are several reasons for the increase. Like men of that age might have had to deal with the economic stresses of the past decade or so. On top of that, men tend to be more resistant to getting help than women.

In 2015, Minnesota recorded its highest suicide rate in 30 years: 13.1 per 100,000 people. That year, 726 people died by suicide.

The state Health Department is working towards a goal of zero suicide deaths. It hopes to reduce suicide by 5 percent in 2020 and by 10 percent in 2025.

There's help

There's help if you or someone you know is considering suicide or dealing depression.

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime at 1-800-273-8255.

Minnesota also has a service where you can text counselors for free. Just text "Life" to 61222. There are a bunch of other resources in the state too.

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