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For the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, dial 988 or text “MT” to 741-741.

In the event of a life-threatening emergency, dial 911.

Call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org. The Lifeline provides free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States.

Suicide in Montana

Montana has the 3rd highest suicide rate in the United States and has been in the top 5 for highest rate every year for the past 40 years

  • Montana had more than double the national average of youth suicide (ages 11-17) between 2011-2020
  • Suicide is the number one cause of preventable death in Montana for children ages 10-14
  • There are approximately 300 suicides in Montana every year
  • According to a 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 10.2% of all Montanan students in grades 9 through 12 had made a suicide attempt

Warning Signs

Talking about:

  • Wanting to die
  • Great guilt or shame
  • Being a burden to others

Feeling:

  • Empty, hopeless, trapped or no reason to live
  • Extremely sad, anxious, agitated or full of rage
  • Unbearable emotional or physical pain

Changing behavior, such as:

  • Making a plan or researching ways to die
  • Withdrawing from friends, saying goodbye, giving away important items, or making a will
  • Taking dangerous risks such as driving extremely fast
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Eating or sleeping more or less
  • Using drugs or alcohol more often

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

Let’s Talk About It

Suicide is complicated and tragic, but it can be preventable. If someone you know is suicidal, follow the following steps to help them:

Talk about it:

Asking someone if they are thinking about killing themselves is not an easy question, but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.

Keep them safe:

Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.

Be there:

Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Research suggests acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal thoughts.

Help them connect:

Save the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline number (call or text 988) and the Crisis Text Line number (741741) in your phone so they’re there if you need them. You can also help make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional.

Stay connected:

Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. Studies have shown the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.

At Risk Groups

In Montana, between 2011-2020, the highest rates of suicides was among American Indians (32 per 100,000) although they only constitute 6% of the state’s population. Caucasians were second at 25.3 per 100,000.

In addition, the following groups are considered at-risk:

  • Veterans: Veterans accounted for 18% of all suicide deaths despite representing just 8.5% of the population.
  • Children: Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst young (15-24) Americans.
  • College students: One in 12 college students have made a suicide plan.
  • Elderly: Eighty-five percent of elderly suicides are male, and the rate of male suicides in late life was seven times greater than for female suicides.
  • LGBTQ youth: LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter have made a suicide attempt.

Why does Montana have such a high rate of suicide?

  • Vitamin D deficiency – correlated with increased risk of depression
  • Altitude – oxygen deprevation starts at 2,500 feet. The average suicide in Montana ocurs at 3,500 feet.
  • Social isolation – Montana has 6.7 people per square mile. The national average is 88.7.
  • Alcohol – often used as a coping strategy, and the amount of alcohol in the blood at the time of death is 2 times the national average.
  • Socioeconomics – One in five Montana kids live more than 100% below the poverty level.
  • High concentration of at risk groups, including veterans, American Indians and middle age white men.
  • Access to firearms – nearly 90% of all firearm deaths in Montana are suicides.
  • Stigma – many depressed people feel they are a burden and are unlikely to ask for help.
  • Lack of behavioral health services – lack of psychiatrists and integrated behavioral health into primary care.

Source: Montana Department Health & Human Service

Common Mental Health Conditions

Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions, each having unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy and ability to think clearly. Individuals with this disorder experience extreme high and low moods, known as mania and depression. Some people can be symptom-free for many years between episodes.

Depression

Depression involves recurrent, severe periods of clear-cut changes in mood, thought processes and motivation lasting for a minimum of two weeks. Changes in thought processes typically include negative thoughts and hopelessness. Depression also involves affects sleep/energy, appetite or weight.

Eating disorders

Eating disorders are characterized by the intentional changing of food consumption to the point where physical health or social behaviors are affected.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

PTSD involves a set of physiological and psychological responses. It can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, rape, war/combat or something similar.

Psychosis

Psychosis is when people lose some contact with reality. This might involve seeing or hearing things that other people cannot see or hear (hallucinations) and believing things that are not actually true (delusions).

Substance use disorders

Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) are treatable, chronic diseases characterized by a problematic pattern of use of a substance or substances leading to impairments in health, social function, and control over substance use.

Mental Health Resources

  • SAMHSA: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration | samhsa.gov
  • AFSP: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention | asfp.org
  • NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness | nami.org
  • APA: American Psychological Association | apa.org