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Missoula Suicide Rate Already Double the National Average in 2013

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Photo courtesy of SheldonPhotography/Flickr

Montana currently has the third highest suicide rate of any state in the nation. The trend is nothing new, but the statistics are an important reminder during National Suicide Prevention Week.  For the past fifty years, Montana has consistently ranked as one of top five highest suicide rate states.

When trying to assess why suicide rates are so high here, professionals often point to the rural nature of the state or the lack of mental health care networks in small communities. But even in Missoula County, which has health and medical centers in abundance compared to the rest of the state, Missoula still maintains a shockingly high suicide rate.

“Certainly Missoula County is no stranger to this unfortunate event,” says Missoula City-County Health Department Suicide Prevention Coordinator Micah Helser. “Currently we have twenty-three suicides that have been completed in 2013 and we’re not even done with the year yet. That’s actually twice the national average.”

Helser said Missoula is attempting to bring multiple agencies together to combat the suicide trend. One of the main areas of concern is those that have lost loved ones to suicide.

“The data has shown that they are a very high risk population for having suicidal behavior down the line,” Helser said. “So one of the things that we’ve done in our community is  create a partnership between Tamarack Grief Resource Center, the Missoula County Sheriff’s office, the health department and a gentleman named Rusty Day, who is a survivor of suicide himself, to develop grief after suicide support groups.”

The support groups are six to eight weeks in length and are designed to help not only with the grieving process, but to prevent the sense of depression and isolation that can lead to suicide.

The next round of grief support groups will be starting October 1. To find out more information contact Rusty Day at survivorsptgrp@gmail.com or call Tamarack Grief Resource Center at (406) 541 – 8472

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