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2013 Continues Montana’s Disturbing Suicide Trend

Depression Montana
Photo courtesy of Jon King

For the past forty years, Montana has consistently placed as one of the five states with the highest suicide rate in the country. Though the final numbers won’t be available till June, preliminary reports show that 2013 actually saw an increase in the number of suicides.

“We’re somewhere around 230 suicides for the year of 2013,” said Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Suicide Prevention Coordinator Karl Rosston. “[In past years,] we’ve been around 226, 225, 228, so it has gone up by one or two, but it’s been pretty stable within four or five of what we’ve had for the past couple years.

Rosston says that 90 percent of the time, suicide is a symptom of an underlying health disorder and that the goal of his department in 2014 will be to focus on mental health education.

“This has been gradual, it’s nothing new, but we’re kind of putting a full court press on some of these things,” said Rosston. “We are active with the Law Enforcement Academy. Every single officer that goes through the academy is now trained on Mental health awareness and suicide prevention. We’re working really close with schools and the Department of Education, providing resources to the schools from as early as first and second grade through high school.”

Rosston also said that nurses and teachers that go through the Montana University system will receive training on how to assess mental illness in hopes that more suicides can be prevented in the future.

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