Suicide Prevention Interactive Toolkit

With the rising rates of suicide in the U.S., the demand for a proactive and coordinated response is growing and becoming even more critical. Each individual has a role to play in the fight against suicide. Suicide is often surrounded in stigma, shame, and misunderstanding, causing many individuals to not seek the help they need. Research has shown that personal and community connectedness can make a significant difference in the lives of those at risk for suicide. Helping to connect a person at risk to a support system, including providing resources to reach out to (friends, family, clergy, therapist, support groups, hotlines, etc.), is a step that anyone in the community can make,. In addition to providing social support to vulnerable individuals, communities and community members can engage in follow up care, fight stigma, and support those bereaved by suicide.

Introduction to Montana Suicide Prevention Program

In 2007, MCA 53-21-1101 established a suicide prevention coordinator attached to the Director’s Office of DPHHS. Over the past 13 years, the State Suicide Prevention Coordinator, DPHHS, and stakeholders across the State have worked to bring the issue of suicide to the forefront.

DPHHS has revised the State Strategic Plan for Suicide Prevention to build on existing programs, informed by national research and current best practices to provide stakeholders across Montana with critical resources, information, and tools to enhance resiliency. The agency’s program must be informed by the best available evidence and thus, DPHHS, working with the National Council for Behavioral Health, has revamped and produced a new comprehensive State Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan. A group of key stakeholders from around the state participated in a review of the new plan. In addition to the goals identified in the plan, interventions have been implemented to focus on high-risk populations in the state.

Suicide prevention is a bottom-up, participatory process that involves many different members of the community. This is particularly important to remember as different populations and communities are affected by suicide in different ways. This online resource provides each member of the community, from teachers to employers to healthcare and mental healthcare professionals and members of the community at large, a variety of information and resources to best serve those around them in suicide prevention and care.  The hope of this resource is that it may be used to reduce the risk of suicide among all Montana populations and provide useful tools for crisis intervention and postvention.

General Montana Data

  • Montana has been a top tier state for suicide for more than a hundred years
  • Montana has been in the top five for suicide for more than 40 years
  • Over the past ten years, Montana’s suicide rate is nearly double the rate than the US
  • Over the past ten years, Montana’s suicide rate for American Indians is nearly triple the rate of American Indians in the US
  • Over the past ten years, Montana’s suicide rate for young people (15-24) is more than double the rate in the US
  • Over the past ten years, Montana’s suicide rate by firearm is more than double the rate in the US

Suicide in Montana

For the past thirty years, Montana has ranked in the top five for suicide rates in the nation for all age groups. In the 2018 National Vital Statistics Report, Montana had the 4th highest rate of suicide in the nation (265 suicides for a crude rate of 24.9).

  • In Montana, between 2013-2017, the highest rate of suicide was among American Indians (31.3 per 100,000) although they only constitute 6% of the state’s population.  Caucasians are second at 25.6 per 100,000.
  • Firearms (62%), suffocation (20%), and poisoning (9%) are the most common means of suicide in Montana.  Other means include carbon monoxide, overdose, motor vehicles accidents, and jumping from heights.
  • In Montana in 2013-17, the youth suicide (ages 11-17) rate was 11.8/100,000.  This is almost triple the national rate for the same age group (4.4). Over the last ten years, 63% of the youth suicides were completed by firearms.
  • According to the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, during the 12 months before the survey, 10% of all Montanan students in grades 9 through 12 had made a suicide attempt and 15.6% of 7th and 8th graders.  For American Indian students, 15.4% had attempted suicide one or more times in the twelve months before the survey. There is a 380% increase in suicidal ideations for students getting “D”’s compared to “A”’s.
  • Suicide is the number one cause of preventable death in Montana for children ages 10-14
  • Over the past ten years suicide was the number two overall  cause of death for children ages 10-14, adolescents ages 15-24 and adults ages 25-44.
    • Studies show that for every completed suicide, there are 6 survivors.  Given there are approximately 220-230 suicides in Montana every year, that means there are about 1,400 new survivors every year in Montana. A survivor of suicide has 3x the risk of completing suicide themselves.

Data Source: 2018 National Vital Statistics Reports (February, 2020), Montana Office of Epidemiology and Scientific Support (February, 2020), 2019 Montana Youth Risk Behavior Survey (September, 2019)