COLUMBUS - Eleven Eastern Montana critical access hospital emergency rooms will soon have a new tool to help expand suicide prevention programs.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced at Stillwater Billings Clinic in Columbus Wednesday that $1 million dollars in state grant will boost community-based suicide detection programs.
Montana currently has the highest rate of suicide of any state in the nation, which Bullock said is unacceptable. Some of the grant money will be used to launch new evidence-based suicide prevention programs that can be used by emergency rooms across the state.
"Montana has a suicide risk that's highest in ages, forty-five and older for adult males. What does that mean? That means if we don't intervene soon, if we don't get them the help that they need soon, that actual risk has now become a reality," said Natasha Sailer, a registered nurse at Stillwater Billings Clinic.
"They created an application that uses an algorithm that learns, to try and identify the risks, the seventy two hour risk for a suicide attempt. So the app, what it will do is, you hand this to a patient, the patient enters in and answers about eight to eleven questions, it takes less than a minute and the application spits out low risk, medium risk, and high risk for suicide in the next 72 hours," added Dr. Eric Arzubi of Billings Clinic.
The new app that Dr. Arzubi referred to has been in trial use at Billings Clinic for the past several months. The next step, he said, will be to install the hardware for the program so it can be used at hospitals statewide.
The $1 million in suicide prevention money comes from a bill passed by the 2017 Montana Legislature.