HELENA — The Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) reports Montana has ranked in the top five for suicide rates in the nation for the past 30 years, and with September marking Suicide Prevention Month the National Alliance on Mental Illness Montana (NAMI) is bringing awareness to the harrowing issue.
“We are happy that September is Suicide Awareness Month that corresponds with people getting back in the schools and schools are such an important part of how to reach people, how to reach kids, touch them in different ways that might direct them towards care,” said NAMI Montana executive director Matt Kuntz.
Kuntz says that due to factors such as Vitamin D deficiency, stigma, and lack of access to mental health services, Montana’s suicide rate remains high.
“You know it's not one thing that causes suicide, but we do have a lot of folks that are at risk and we struggle with the mental health resources. it is a really rural state and we are geographically dispersed, and it's hard to get everybody that mental health care,” said Kuntz.
But Kuntz wants to remind the public that the 24/7 Montana Suicide lifeline is a valuable resource for those who are struggling, or for those who are concerned for family members and friends.
“I think that the key thing to remember is there is the suicide hotline, the suicide hotline is where we direct everyone, because there is somebody there almost all the time and they're Montana operators, so they do know our state and they know what real-world resources are available locally,” said Kuntz.
NAMI Montana holds a fundraiser called NAMI Walks to promote mental health resources across the state.
“It's a great way for people to engage with you know, not only suicide prevention but helping people engage and mental health activities and in mental health resources from around the state and fighting to ensure that we have mental health resources from the state,” said Kuntz.
People can participate virtually or in-person on Sunday, Sept. 19 in Helena at Memorial Park starting at 12:30 p.m.
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