Montana Ranks Number One in the Nation on Suicide Rates
Karl Rosston, Montana Suicide Prevention Coordinator, joined VOM Tuesday to raise awareness on suicide in Montana and inform listeners on warning signs.
“This is not a new problem. Montana currently has the highest rate of suicide in the nation,” said Rosston. Montana’s suicide rate is double the national rate and is mostly a Rocky Mountain regional issue. One of the factors that contribute to this is social isolation. Other factors included were less access to services and help, alcohol consumption, altitude, and depression. “Last year in Montana for suicide deaths, 40 percent of people had alcohol in their system,” said Rosston. “Montana is second in the United States for alcohol-related deaths.”
“At about 2500 feet we see a spike in suicide world wide,” said Rosston. “The way altitude plays a role is through metabolic stress caused by long-term oxygen deprivation.” Rosston listed several factors that have a potential correlation with suicide, but he explained how depression is the biggest factor of all.
“Nationally, 90 percent of the people who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental issue, the biggest one being depression,” stated Rosston. His advice for this issue was to talk about it. “In Montana, specifically with depression, we see depression as a weakness, as a burden, and because of this we do not want to ask for help. Undiagnosed and untreated depression is the major, major point that we are emphasizing. We know that depression is very treatable, but people have to be able to talk about it.” According to the World Health Organization, by the year 2030, depression will be the number one health issue in the world.
Rosston compared the importance of suicide to cancer or auto safety. “This is also a biological, genetically based, medical condition, and we need to address it with the same way we have addressed other health issues in society.”
“We have to remember that depression is treatable and suicide is preventable. Anybody in our state can help save a life, if you know what to look for and you know what to say, and this is available to everybody in our state,” said Rosston.
Written By: Lawna Hergenrider