Youth Suicide Must Be a Priority
Youth suicide is impacting Montana families, communities, and schools at an alarming rate. It is the second leading cause of death among ages 10-44 in Montana. Last year, there were 14 suicides under the age of 17 in Montana.
Underlying all this is the fact that youth suicide is preventable. Schools are in a position to change these statistics by building a supportive structure that eliminates the stigma surrounding suicide, helps students feel connected to their schools and communities, and gives them support to face and overcome adversity.
Connected Schools Make a Difference
More and more research is showing that students are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors and succeed academically when they feel connected to school. What is school connectedness? It is the belief by students that adults and other peers in the school care about their learning, as well as about them as individuals.
Schools can do two major things right now to encourage student-school connectedness and decrease suicide:
1. Educate, Educate, Educate - school staff, parents & community, AND students
Click HERE for more suicide education 'must-haves', info, and resources
2. A comprehensive program with protocols for addressing underlying mental illness or other issues
Click HERE to learn more about 'whole-school' programs that address suicide prevention
Contacts for More Support
Jamey Petersen, MT OPI, Coordinated School Health Unit Director, 406-444-3000
Access OPI's Suicide Awareness and Prevention page HERE.
Erin Butts, MT OPI, School Mental Health Coordinator, 406-444-0688
Karl Rosston, MT DPPHS, Suicide Prevention Coordinator, 406-444-3349