Suicide in Montana is a difficult topic to discuss, but it is an issue that needs to be talked about. There is help. Last year the federal government activated a three digit suicide help line that is available to anyone by dialing 988. It is available 24 hours a day  with trained counselors that can help. If you, or someone you know is having a hard time and needs someone to talk to, please reach out by calling 988.

It Is Not A Simple Issue

Suicide is a complex issue, that has no easy fix for anyone. I spoke with Karl Rosston, the Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the Montana Department of Health and Human Services. We talked about the issues we have in Montana, this is what he had to say,

Well, part of one of the one of the common factors that we we take a look at is stigma. And that is that is a major issue in our culture. It's not just Montana, eight of the top 10 states or Rocky Mountain region states, it really runs down from Alaska, right down through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Utah. There's a couple of common factors that we all have. But one of the major ones that affects people is stigma. And that is, we have that cowboy hat mentality, that sense of independence, we take care of our own, we don't like to talk about our problems. And especially when it comes to issues like depression and anxiety. We see it, we see it as a weakness, and we see ourselves as a burden. And if you think you're a burden, how likely are you to ask for help. So that's one of the major things that we're trying to address, is making it okay for people to talk about, if they're struggling, if they're having some some depression or anxiety, and to know that there are resources available, both with their primary care, but also statewide crisis resources that are available to people at all times.

Communication Is Important

Starting the conversation is very important. Being able to ask for help is a big step in the process. Karl had this to say about the suicide prevention hotline,

If people call that number, and it's 24/7. We have three call centers in Montana, about 98% of the calls from Montana stay in Montana, which is important people in Montana to know they're talking to Montana people, and that it's not somebody in New York. So they can call that number and they're going to be talking to a trained crisis counselor, who can provide resources to them and can help get emergency help if needed. They work very closely with the 911 system. So if emergency response needed to happen, then that can happen. Or if they just need to know what what resources are in your community, and have referrals to those resources. That's what that's always available to them.

There Is Always Help Available

With the above resources available, being able to listen and check in with people you are in contact with who might be struggling is something we can all do to help our community with this complex issue.

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