September 10 marked National Suicide Prevention Day.
Montana has ranked in the top five for death by suicide rates in the United States for all age groups, which is one of the reasons local mental health experts encourage the public to talk openly about the topic.
Jess Hegstrom, a leader with Lewis and Clark Suicide Coalition and works for Lewis and Clark Public Health, says that having the discussion in adolescence about mental health and having treatment for that can be a factor in preventing suicide.
"If those things are happening when we are young, if we can get help when those things are happening again, we have better lives," said Hegstrom.
When it comes to myths about suicide, she says there are some things to clear up.
"[One myth] is someone chooses to use a particular device to take their lives, and if they don't have access, they are going to immediately replace it with something else. So, if they can't jump off a bridge, they will use something else. And a lot of times they don't replace, and if they do, they pick something less lethal," explained Hegstrom.
She also adds that if a friend is having thoughts of killing themselves, ask if you can safely store their gun or rifle. Reducing access to lethal means plays a big role in helping prevent deaths by suicide.
There are also other misconceptions about suicide, such as people who have experienced suicidal thoughts will always be suicidal.
But the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) refutes that claim stating the act of suicide is often an attempt to control deep, painful emotions and thoughts an individual is experiencing. Once these thoughts dissipate, so will the suicidal ideation. While suicidal thoughts can return, they are not permanent.
“Most people don't want to die; they just want their pain to end," Hegstrom said. "And, really, the best we can give people who are suicidal is time to think about what they are doing because it really goes against our survival instincts.”
More resources can be found on Lewis and Clark Suicide Coalition.
Depression is Treatable -- Suicide is Preventable
If you are in crisis and want help, call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24/7, at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or text "MT" to 741 741