A Community of Care

Updated: Nov 6, 2020


For many of us, Montana is a magical place filled with natural beauty, enchanting wildlife and caring communities. With all the charm of our idyllic environment, we may not be aware of the ominous undercurrent of emotional suffering afflicting a casual acquaintance, close friend or even our children. Montana’s high suicide rate may be just another impersonal national statistic to many; but for some of our neighbors, it is a reflection of the darkness of depression that is endured every day.

Suicide is a consequence of intolerable emotional pain. Many suicide attempts are impulsive acts and half of all suicide deaths are caused by firearms. Severe emotional pain can cause debilitating conditions such as distorted thought processes and tunnel vision which impairs problem solving and clear thinking. Depression and emotional pain also can result in extreme exhaustion which diminishes the ability to seek help. A person suffering from depression just doesn’t have enough energy to reach out, even if they have the motivation.

Since 2007, suicide rates in Montana have been climbing at a significantly higher rate than in the previous 40 years. Even more tragic is the increase in youth suicide rates. Nearly one in seven junior high students in Montana reported attempting suicide in the last twelve months. Students who attempted suicide often have other life problems such as bullying, drinking, drug abuse and abusive home environments. Depression is one of the most treatable of all psychiatric disorders for young people.[1] A combination of antidepressants and therapy has been shown to have an 86% success rate.

If you suspect that a friend or family member may be suffering emotional pain, the first step is recognizing that the problem exists. Warning signs are given by 70-80% of people who die by suicide. Some of the primary warning signs are purposelessness, alcoholism, anxiety, hopelessness, withdrawal, anger, recklessness and mood changes. The most obvious warning sign is expressions of self-harm or seeking methods of self-harm. Social factors that are highly correlated with suicide are social isolation, social disorganization, downward social mobility and rural residency.1

Talking with your friend or family member about their feelings in a warm, accepting, non-judgmental atmosphere might be the best way to help them. “Suicide” is not a taboo word and asking about it might just prevent it. Asking someone whether they are having suicidal thoughts is a good way to directly approach the issue.

How you can help –