Earlier this month, the American Association of Suicidology released its data sheet of Rates, Numbers and Rankings of suicide in each state for 2018. These numbers are based on data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
The overall numbers for the United States indicate that the country’s suicide problem is becoming more dire. 2018 had the highest suicide rate in decades. “[T]the crude suicide rate of 14.8 is the highest crude rate observed in the United States since 1938 (15.25; 1939 was 14.14). The age-adjusted suicide rate of 14.2 is the highest age-adjusted rate since 1941 (15.0; 1942 was 14.0).”
On the state level, Montana had the highest suicide rate in the nation in 2017. We dropped down to the fourth highest rate in 2018. This the first time that Montana has been out of the top three in the last decade.
Having lost a dear friend to suicide in 2018 and having worked with other families who lost loved ones that year, I know those numbers are still too high. But, the trend has to start going down and hopefully this is the beginning of that.
The State of Montana has worked with a group of collaborators to develop a number of different, research-based suicide prevention projects. NAMI Montana is honored to be a a member of that team and a strong advocate for effective suicide prevention on the local, state and federal levels.
That includes our partnership with Montana State University through the Center for Mental Health Research and Recovery (Center). The Center has managed the Youth Aware of Mental Health program and Thrive for Montana (Online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) project as efforts to reduce suicide in Montana.
Karl Rosston LCSW, Montana’s Suicide Prevention Coordinator, has stated for years that we will know that we’ve made real progress when Montana is out of the top five suicide rates for five years in a row.
We aren’t there yet, but we are moving in that direction. NAMI Montana is deeply grateful to everyone who is working on this critical issue.
Matthew Kuntz, JD