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Suicide Prevention Week efforts kick off in Missoula County

A digital art piece "Projected Hope" serves as a visual reminder
"Projected Hope" art instillation raises suicide prevention awareness
Posted at 6:39 PM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 10:55:56-04

MISSOULA — Located on 201 N Higgins Ave. is an art installation entitled “Projected Hope.” It’s a part of an effort to reduce stigmas and educate during National Suicide Prevention Week.

The digital quilt art instillation celebrates those living for their tomorrow and honoring the lives of those who have died by suicide.

For all age groups, Montana has ranked in the top five for suicide rates in the nation, for the past thirty years. Some of the data reveals factors at play within Montana's statistics include social isolation, access to firearms, and lack of behavioral health services.

Locally, Project Tomorrow Montana housed under United Way coordinates a county-wide network working on suicide prevention. The organization is one of several key groups leading the week of events.

“One of the things that we're focusing on on Suicide Prevention Week this year is our first responders, our active military and our veteran population," Project Tomorrow Coordinator Rosie Ayers told MTN News.

The display is a part of a series of events this week in Missoula County and nationwide that elevate the topic of suicide prevention.

This year’s focus is in the wake of an isolating and stressful year.

“We know how taxed everyone is right now, and how much our systems have a lot more division than they have unity, but we know that in coming together in compassion and support, we can build that unity together and a stronger and more healthy society with mental health first," Ayers said.

Ayers said those working in health care, law enforcement, and other first responders are among the most stressed in society at this time.

“There's also a larger stigma in those who give help sometimes have a hard time asking for help or recognizing in themselves when and how they can take a break, or that they can get to resources that are needed as well, sometimes those people that give us and save our lives the most are the people that need us as well," Ayers said.

The digital installation "Projected Hope" will be up from dusk through dawn until next Tuesday. The display comes from a collaboration through Project Tomorrow Montana, The Vet Center, and with support from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Montana Chapter, ARTS Missoula, and Tamarack Grief Resource Center.

If you or someone you know is dealing with emotional pain or suicidal thoughts, dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text “Hello” to 741741, which is the Crisis Text Line.

More resources can be found here.