Family and Friends often struggle with the question of why a person would choose to end their own life. In many cases, the question is complicated and remains open-ended.
Every year more than 250 Montanans die by suicide. According to the Missoula City-County Health Department, Montana has the highest rate of suicide per capita in the United States. In the past ten years, the rate of suicide in Montana has increased 38%. That is 21.4 per 100,000 (the average is 12 per 100,000).
According to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, during the 12 months before the survey, 9.5% of Montana’s 9th-12th-grade students made a suicide attempt. That percentage is even higher for 7th and 8th-grade students — 14.8% of those students made a suicide attempt. For American Indian students, 18.3% had attempted suicide one or more times in the 12 months before the survey. There is a 380% increase in suicidal ideations for students getting D grades compared to those getting A grades.
Suicide is the number one cause of preventable death in Montana for children ages 10-14.
Suicide is often associated with mental illness, such as depression or chronic pain, a physical disability, or stressful life events such as a divorce or separation.
Know the warning signs. The CDC lists key signs to look for. They include:
- Expressing or communicating about wanting to die
- Talking of wanting to hurt themselves or making plans for suicide
- Substance abuse
- Unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
- Feeling trapped
- Withdrawing from friends or isolating from family
- Dramatic mood changes
What do you do if you think someone is suicidal or thinking about ending their life? Reach out. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation about thoughts of suicide. Ask directly, “Are you thinking about suicide?” Stay with them and listen. The next step is to get them professional help.
Resources are available 24/7. Call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK, or text MT to 741741