Suicide in Miles City MT
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Posted by Alicia Miller (+54) 12 years ago
In the 6 years I've attended Miles City schools, there have been several suicides, and countless attempts. Including my sister, and several friends of mine. I find it highly disturbing that the school administrators dismissed the idea to have someone come to the schools and talk to the kids about suicide, and the effects it has on a community. This was recently introduced to the administration shortly after the little girl killed herself this passed fall. I don't want the next phone call I get to say, "Hey, so and so, killed them self. The funeral is next week." With all the suicides that have happened with in the last few years, I feel that it is highly irresponsible not to talk to the schools in Miles City. Do you want to be the next parent, sister, brother, aunt, whatever burying your child? This is becoming an epidemic, that needs to be stopped.
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Posted by Stephenie (+54) 12 years ago
My best friends son just committed suicide where I am from and it has been so devastating. What a complete shock to our small community, he was a freshman in college with a scholarship in rodeo, has was a saddle bronc rider never thought it would of been him. What a great kid with the best attitude and a smile from ear to ear on his face, he will be missed. Its something no parent should ever have to go through completely unimaginable.
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Posted by Alicia Miller (+54) 12 years ago
No one should have to go through that. That's why I think it's so important to talk to the kids around here. It scares me to think, "which one is going to do it next?" My little sister's a among those kids. Along with several friends. =( Ignoring this wont make it go away.
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Posted by Lilly Whitelie (+11) 12 years ago
Montana is # 1 in the nation for suicide rate. What a claim to fame.
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Posted by Alicia Miller (+54) 12 years ago
So why isn't anything being done?
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+11757) 12 years ago
How do you know the administration refused to allow someone to address the students? Rumor? Have you actually talked to someone in the school administration about this issue? If there was a speaker who was turned down, why were they turned down? Was the speaker a qualified professional or just someone who wanted to help? Do you think one speaker once a year will make a difference?

As someone who has been treated for depression for 30 years, I can tell you it is a long term MEDICAL problem. Montana has a stunning suicide rate because of our "we're too tough to ask for help" mentality. I would like to see serious, long term efforts to address our suicide problem but I worry that people would think one "rah-rah" speaker at the high school would solve the issue.
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Posted by Alicia Miller (+54) 12 years ago
I have spoken to someone from the school, thank you. I'm sure that the speaker would have been qualified. There whole mentality on the issue is leave it alone and it will just get better. Obviously that's not working. All I'm saying is something DIFFERENT needs to be done. Not just pushing it aside like its no big deal.
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Posted by Lilly Whitelie (+11) 12 years ago
Amorette you are correct, it is a medical problem. Although I don't believe the "too tough" mentality is the biggest hindrance to getting help. You say you have been treated for depression for 30 yrs. I as well, but stop and think of the times when you and I sought help. There were few willing to seek treatment at that time. Maybe due somewhat to that mentality. However much has changed. When is the last time you or someone you know attempted to gain help through the Mental Health Center? There isn't always a right/wrong or black/white. Many shades of gray. We should be trying to do something positive/proactive as Ms. Miller is. Instead of the inquisition you gave her what about some ideas, thoughts, hints tips or words of wisdom. Might be valuable coming from one who has delt with depression as long as you have.
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Posted by Kate Russell (+158) 12 years ago
Having had a brother commit suicide, I see a lot of denial as to there being a problem. Even my parents denied that my brother had a problem and now 9 years after his death they just starting to talk about what led up to his suicide. In my opinion, more education on the signs of possible suicide is really needed. Especially to have kids let an adult know that a friend is discussing suicide or talking about it at all.

It has been so hard to watch my parents and other parents go through the grief after a child commits suicide.
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Posted by Cindy Stalcup (+586) 12 years ago
Alicia,
There is a national organization called "Active Minds on Campus" that you might like to check out.
The main website is http://activeminds.org
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Posted by Cynthia A. (+196) 12 years ago
It is heartbreaking. I don't think attacking the school or anyone else is the awnser. Suicide has effected my life, so I do understand where the anger comes in. One of my greatest prayers since moving back to Montana has been for hope for the teens and youth of Montana. We talk with our children about it, and have HAD to talk with them about it at an age that they should NOT have to think about it. Eduation needs to be done on many levels. I do believe it is best proactive and not reactive. By proactive I mean talking with kids and teens before it happens, not just after the fact. I will continue praying for the youth of Montana...and for the adults in their lives to be proactive in helping them.
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Posted by Joe Whalen (+612) 12 years ago
Ms. Miller:

More resources are presently aligned than ever before to address the issue of suicide and other mental health issues in the State of Montana. The Addictive & Mental Disorders Division of the MT. Dept. of Public Health & Human Services is shouldering most of the burden of increasing awareness of both programming and funding right now.

There are local representatives working hard to give these issues higher visibility but Amorette is on-point. The local school administration may be talking with the AMDD or they may not be. It wouldn't hurt to call the superintendent's office and ask.

Sadly, mental disorder is highly stigmatized in this community and most others by those historically opposed to psychology. It may take organized political pressure applied by you and others of like mind to the school board before you'll see or hear of any real progress.

Thanks for bringing it up. It's a conversation I think we need to have.
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Posted by Wendy Wilson (+6165) 12 years ago
I completely agree that this issue is ignored by many schools. Although I can't speak to what is happening now, I remember when I was at Custer and one of the students killed himself. It was never addressed in any way in school. This is an issue, like sex education, that adults find uncomfortable to talk about with teens - even adults who work with teens every day. But it's something that must be done. If the administration is ignoring this it is an absolute disgrace.
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Posted by Lilly Whitelie (+11) 12 years ago
Joe could you give us the name(s) of the local representatives to contact?
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Posted by Brad Sauer (+46) 12 years ago
Does anyone know if any of the churches are doing anything?
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Posted by Donna Kingsley Coffeen (+398) 12 years ago
As a teacher who works with students who are particularly high risk for suicide, I cannot say enough good about the Yellow Ribbon program for suicide prevention. Students are highly receptive and are taught what to do if they come in contact with someone they feel might be suicidal. I show the video I purchased from them quite regularly and we hold discussions on the topic in my classroom. This is a topic that must be addressed!

http://www.yellowribbon.org/
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Posted by Nikki Logan (+289) 12 years ago
Having suicide affect my family more then once I think that it is a very predominate problem, but it is not only the kids. The people that I have been close to have been fully grown with children when they committed suicide. I think that this is a very touchy subject and people don't like to talk about it. I think that is why it is so bad, we are an old fashioned community and we tend not to talk about stuff like that. I do think that it needs to be addressed and soon before we loose any more friends or family.
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Posted by Destiny Hardy Carlson (+16) 12 years ago
Nikki, you are right. My brother commited suicide when he was 32 years old. Although guess what, he tried to ever since he was little. It's a mental thing and no I don't like to talk about it but there is a sickness in side when they hurt so bad. I watched my mom suffer for years over his death and I still suffer every day but there isn't enough things we could do to help him. He was unhappy. It's awful when teenagers do this,because I don't think they understand. There is help in this communtiy however, I know that Ione Kirk and Vickie Bradley have meetings and information on this topic. I know that Ione is a great person and would love to help anybody out.
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Posted by Joe Whalen (+612) 12 years ago
Antonia Klein, Addictive & Mental Disorder Division, DPHHS
http://mt.gov/pubdir/Default.asp
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Posted by Vicki Waddington (+7) 12 years ago
The junior high in Miles City has been highly receptive to suicide education for several years. They have invited speakers to the health classes twice a year for the last three or four years to speak to the kids, and they have recently added the SOS program from the Montana DPHHS. They are committed to suicide education here, and I am very grateful for that. The high school has also agreed to implement the SOS (Signs of Suicide) program, but I am not sure if it has been presented to the students yet. The churches have no organized program that I know of, but that doesn't mean it isn't being done. The Local Advisory Council for Mental Health is working on raising the money to train two people in the ASIST program, who can then present training in suicide prevention on a local basis. The LAC is crying for people to join them in this effort. They meet once a month, on the first Wednesday of the month at 5:00 p.m. There is an effort in our community to try and make a difference, but it's a big problem and lots of people have to work very hard for a long time to effect change. We can't give up.
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Posted by derf bergman (+583) 12 years ago
Glad you showed up for the discussion, Vicki.
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Posted by Cindy (+386) 12 years ago
The LAC is crying for people to join them in this effort. They meet once a month, on the first Wednesday of the month at 5:00 p.m.

Vicki - where do they meet? Thanks!
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Posted by Kacey (+3159) 12 years ago
For those who are reading this forum, everything is not always as it seems. Parents think that a speaker coming in will keep their child alive. I know about how children die in Miles City. I also know about how some parents used their children as pawns in divorces and child custody issues. They told their children lies and tried to make them believe they were true. Yet the children knew the truth. No human being can deal with two directly opposing viewpoints on such important things as whether or not their parent loves them or wants them. Some children respond with anger and start drinking. Some use drugs. Some dye their hair purple or turn goth. But the fact is that they are still developing children who are trying to deal with life. After having a parent use them and lie to them for so long they will react in a negative way of some kind. So maybe, just maybe some parents in Miles City should sit back and start looking at the part they actually played in their child's death. And maybe, just maybe if the local mental health people and authorities stopped covering for the parents' actions the children would have advocates they could trust in and believe in. I personally know of several children who refused to talk to the counselors because the counselors immediately turned around and told Mom or Dad all about what was supposedly said in confidence. Mom or Dad got angry and took it out on the child. The authorities refused to do anything about the emotional abuse. And on the circle goes. It's time to get real about what is happening with SOME of the deaths in Miles City.
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Posted by Alicia Miller (+54) 12 years ago
I really don't think attacking parents, and blaming them for their child's death is right. Depression is an internal battle. A chemical imbalance of the brain. It is nobody fault.
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6014) 12 years ago
Having parents who aren't receptive to a child's depression or other problems doesn't help, Alicia. I think that may one of the points Kacey was trying to make.
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Posted by Vicki Waddington (+7) 12 years ago
Cindy, for now we are meeting at the dining room of the Mental Health Center in Miles City. The meeting time is 5:00 p.m. All concerned community members, consumers of mental health care and those who have family members with mental health issues are welcome to attend. I will update the meeting place if we have a change before April 1st. Thanks.
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Posted by Cindy (+386) 12 years ago
Thanks, Vicki.
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Posted by Bob Netherton (+1893) 12 years ago
I'm with Alicia. Some of the best families, in every sense of the word,
will have to deal with mental illness and even suicide. There isn't always an obvious "reason" for suicide outside of a biological cause.
Unstable family situations obviously don't help, but they aren't always the cause. In the old days, the mother usually took the blame. Ever hear of the expression "schizophregenic mother"? (I'm not sure of the spelling)
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Posted by survivor of suicide (+9) 12 years ago
I am a survivor of my son Tad's suicide. Alicia is right. Sucide is Preventable. Mental Illness is Treatable. If you or a loved one are in crisis please call 1-800-273-TALK.
Please provide as much suport as possible to the high school and Washington Jr. High for their decision to get active in an SOS program.- FREE to the schools- It involves peers helping peers (if students choose). Administrators must agree to be involved from the start and have a comittment to see it work. For more info on the program, you could call Karl F. Rosston, LCSW, Suicide Prevention Coordinator for MT Dept. of Public Health and Human Services at [email protected]

In this area the most active group for concerned citizens is the LAC that Vicki mentioned.
We can bring suicide out of the darkness with education and discussion.
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Posted by Kacey (+3159) 12 years ago
From the Youth Suicide Prevention Website:

http://www.youthsuicide.c...easons.htm

Unlike adults, youth do not have the ability to think about life and life events in terms of the broader perspective or "big picture". They tend to believe that all of the unhappiness they are feeling and experiencing will go on forever. Everything that is happening to them is in the "here and now" and they can't begin to think that there might be a brighter future just around the corner. They often don't believe that anyone can help them, and they feel helpless and hopeless within their situation. They believe that they can either choose to live with the pain, or end it by ending their life. Unfortunately their ultimate decision could be fatal.


Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
The reasons for suicide are deep and long standing. The teen that attempted suicide right after his girlfriend broke up with him or the teen that contemplated suicide after losing her job probably had a history of low self-worth that was magnified by the upsetting event.



What is so stressful about being a youth ?
Trouble at home
Change in family dynamics (i.e. new baby, older sister moves back home, Grandmother moves in)
Balancing relationships with divorced or separated parents
Change of schools
Difficulties at school
Bullied at school
Relationship breakup
Social struggles
Balancing school, work, social life, and family relationships
Facing an environment that encourages drugs, alcohol, and sex
The natural separation from parents
Dating
Learning to accept themselves with or without talents and abilities
Getting good grades for college/university
Getting a part-time job
Choosing a college/university
Choosing a career

All suicide is not caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It can be a result of the stresses of life and the immaturity to know that things can get better with time.
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Posted by Alicia Miller (+54) 12 years ago
Thank you all for the feedback. I'm glad I'm not the only one concerned about this.. It can be prevented, and I'm only one person, but having others out there who want to see this change in our small town makes it seem like it can be done.
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Posted by survivor of suicide (+9) 12 years ago
Sadly, Concern fades as times goes by and until unfortunateley, another person suicides. Let's keep talking to the school administration, LAC, and keep suicide prevention in the spotlight.

http://www.afsp.org has many avenues to get involved also. We have an Out OF THe DArkness Walk every September and a National Survivors of Suicide Day the Sat. before THanksgiving every year. It is a Nation wide Webcast These are publicized events. I do not want any more people to join the club of those who are survivors of a loved ones's suicide.

A suicide support group is in the works. It takes time to become qualified. In the meantime, volunteers who have been there are available to offer a listening ear and provide information. Contact the LAC.
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Posted by milestowngal (+175) 12 years ago
I agree the suicide rate for a SMALL town is really high. I do believe the schools should have a big sit down with the ALL the classes. In my class alone we had 2 suicides, the school never offered a chair for us to sit down in,and actually talk about it. I also think parents should have a sit down with kids. I think also most kids should get involved with youth groups. I also think that alot of the problems around here are, there is simply nothing for us teenagers to do. We have the drinking and drugs, we get pushed into it at such a young age. We need clubs or SOMETHING.. I'm certainly tired of drinking and partying all time. I wish some of my friends were..
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Posted by Joan Nye (+10) 12 years ago
My heart goes out to all of you in Miles City. Our Montana Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has educational programs and literature for prevention and supporting people who have lost someone to suicide. Right now we are working on ways to WIDELY to show the new AFSP film "More Than Sad: Teen Depression" to teens, parents, school staff, etc. Students at the Montana state Key Club convention saw it last week. Please contact me for more information.

Taking steps together to save lives,
Joan Nye, survivor and Chair of Montana Chapter,
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
10 Maki Hill Rd
Columbus, MT 59019
406-322-8587
[email protected]
[email protected]
Learn more at www.afsp.org
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Posted by Karl Rosston (+9) 12 years ago
Thank you all for your concern about this very serious problem in your community. I am very concerned about the issue of suicide in Custer County. Since 2000, Custer has the highest rate of suicide in the state (32 per 100,000). However, the issue doesn't start in the schools, it is in the community. The power to change is going to come from within and will spread from there. SOS kits have been supplied to middle schools and the high school (I don't know if they have been implemented yet). We also have radio PSA's which are focusing on middle aged men, especially farmers and ranchers. But Miles City has to decide that they are going to address this as a community. There needs to be trainings for parents and a saturation of information concerning the warning signs and what any one of us could do to save a life. We have to confront the myth that talking about it is going to make it worse. So many people have been touched by suicide, yet we suffer in silence. We have to tell our stories. Not to glorify it, but rather share our experience so that people don't feel they are alone in their darkness, that they are not damaged goods, that they are not weak. We have to raise awareness in our community. Suicide is preventable and it all starts with either talking about your pain or asking someone who appears to be hurting what you can do to help. If I can be a resource in any way, please don't hesitate to give me a call.

Karl Rosston, LCSW
Suicide Prevention Coordinator
DPHHS
(406)444-3349
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Posted by HeatherB (+9) 12 years ago
I know that when I was in high school, our Key Club was a part of a statewide project called "Project Life" that was created several years ago at the MT Key Club Leadership Camp. This project was created to battle teen suicide. When I was in high school, our club was highly involved and interested in Project Life, but was informed that the SADD club was taking over suicide prevention and education for the high school with 'Ghost Outs', etc. In response to this, we took our project to the Jr. High. We eventually created Project Pride to extend to local elementary schools, and battle bullying, which we found as one of the main causes of low self esteem and depression among middle school students. I know that as of last year, these programs were still running, but may have lost some steam as the club becomes busy with other service projects.

Project Life has a state hotline for those people wanting information, or just needing someone to talk to about suicide. This and other information can be found on the key club website: http://mtkeyclub.org/Proj.../links.htm, and is readily available to those who need it. The site provides a video and powerpoint on the project and its origins, tips on dealing with suicide and depression, links, and contacts.

I found the project to be very well organized, and very influential when integrating it into our club while I was in high school. The information available is high quality, and readily available to those who need it. All it needs now is more publicity.
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Posted by City Grant Administrator (+78) 12 years ago
First, I'd like to commend Alicia for focusing our attention on the HUGE problem of suicide and depression in Miles City. I'd also like to thank all subsequent posters for addressing the topic in such a positive way.

This thread has led to what I think is by far the most important, constructive and progressive discussion held to date on MilesCity.com. It shows how much good a community bulletin board like this can do to start the ball rolling on identifying and addressing important issues. And what could be more important than the lives of our youth?

But it is clearly time to convert this discussion into action. As Joan, Karl and others have made clear, there are many resources and lots of support available out there. And as Heather and others have stated, programs to deal with this issue have and may still exist in Miles City.

It's obviously time for a combination of community leaders, health care professionals, mental health advocates, youth representatives educators, and state and local program administrators convene a summit in Miles City to:
1) discuss and define the problem(s);
2) explore readily available resources
3) learn more about existing local prevention programs
4) identify opportunities for improving and/or expanding those programs
5) challenge the community to develop and implement a suicide prevention and intervention on an ASAP basis.

The logical leaders of such an effort would be the local mental health center and the school district, with avid support and participation by the City, County, MCC, Holy Rosary Health Care, Custer County Community Health Center, and others. I'd be very willing to support this effort in whatever way possible -- officially as a City staff person (if so assigned by the mayor), or as a concerned citizen and volunteer of the Custer County Community Health Center.

Please let us know if you or anyone you know whould be interested in helping to take this effort to the next stage.
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Posted by Buck Showalter (+4461) 12 years ago
Just for the record, someone was surprised at the suicide rate in a small town like MC - suicides rates are typically higher in rural areas - there are also areas where rates of drug abuse and alcoholism are very high - the same goes in Alaska

That's definitely not to say this isn't an important topic that warrants discussion and action

There are definitely things that can be done to fight it
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Posted by Steve Craddock (+2743) 12 years ago
The more important points being:
1) The suicide rate in Miles City/Custer County is higher than comparable rural areas
2) Other rural areas with similar demographics to Miles City/Custer County have lower rates.

We should do everything we can to go from one end of the spectrum (highest rate per 1,000) to the other end (lowest rate per 1,000).
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Posted by Nathan Miles (+20) 12 years ago
this forum seems to have the least "flaming" and destructive argueing of any serious forum of comprable size on this site. at least everyone is taking this seriously.

i got my first job in MC because the person who had it before me commited suicide. worst way in the history of man to get a job.
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Posted by Joan Nye (+10) 12 years ago
Suicide a vast public health problem - we all can get involved to help save lifes. Here is good recent article: http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=788960&category=OPINION
I am willing to come teach "QPR: Question, Persuade, Refer" to people of Miles City area. This is one of the leading suicide prevention classes; it takes only 75 minutes. Also I can show the new film on teen depression, made by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). All teens, parents, people should see it.
Go to www.outofthedarkness.org and sign up for the suicide prevention walk in Billings this fall - help raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's research, movies, programs, and the work of our Montana Chapter of AFSP. Join Facebook and become a fan of Montana Chapter AFSP for updates - I am Joan Nye, chair; Ione Kirk is on our Board. Learn more at www.afsp.org.
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Posted by snickers (+819) 12 years ago
I went to this free workshop here in Miles City last summer with Ione. There weren't many people there but the presenter was really good. In fact I had planned on only attending the one day but went both days. I know the people in Billings that put it on would be willing to come back here again if we could get them funded. I sent them the link to this thread.

http://www.livingworks.net/AS.php
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Posted by Kass Portra (+42) 12 years ago
Another obstacle to suicide prevention is the mistaken belief that asking the question will plant the seed. If you suspect that someone is severely depressed, it is so important to ask if they are thinking of hurting themselves. If the answer is yes, the next question should be to ask if they have a plan. If they have a plan, serious action is needed. Call 911, take them to the hospital, get immediate help.

These questions will not give someone not already contemplating suicide the idea to do it.

Access to care, stigma associated with getting help, and absence of education all stand in the way.
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Posted by John Aliff (+17) 12 years ago
Suicide,seems to be an interesting topic.It has always facinated me to think what the end of life would be at your own hands.I've been on all sides of the fence.My first funeral was for a suicide victim and since going through the years it has been a common acurrance in my life.I've struggled many days with in the past with my own reliance for this future.Though I failed several times several of my friends were not so fortunate.I support this topic and though that might not be important,but suicide is tradgic at any age and truelly terrifing for an adolescent.I believe through my own experiences that education is the very most important thing even at a very young age it is a reality that has touched all of our lives even when were not in any aquantance with the person in response to the effort.Im not a citizen of MC any longer but it hurts to hear about these things and to be able to eppress the idea open that pushing the schools and the city is effort none the less, to say that it is a fact of life is not enough.I read through most of this topic and maybe people have lost interest but fine examples of things better ignored are isses like meth and how many children end there lives because they were never taught that its ok to ask for help.We need to push these topics till it reaches every child and young adult.And the sad part about it is that it will go on after heart felt attempts to stop the climbing numbers but we can say we tried and that even if one person was saved then that will be worth all the pain.
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Posted by Julie H (+199) 12 years ago
This is finally a topic that people are realizing needs to come out of the dark and into the light. There are things in the works right now to start educating kids of all ages and young adults. Right now, Montana is rated #3 only behind Wyoming and Alaska. However, a recent workshop that my daughter and I attended as well as current information we received from the state shows that Custer County has the highest rate per capita.

My daughter, a 7th grader at WMS lost 2 friends, her dad lost a young co-worker and Hannah lost a dance instructor in a suicide related death. All since 8/25/08.

Just recently she became a finalist in the Miss Montana Outstanding Teen program where her goal is to promote suicide awareness and prevention. She is currently working with 2 national organizations and also with the State Director of Suicide Awareness. It is a huge undertaking for a 13 year old but she doesn't want to lose anyone else. The only time that suicide is brought up is when someone dies. It should be coming up all the time, that's the only way to help.

This biggest factor in making an impact on suicide attempts and successes will come from educating people and making them aware of the signs, warnings, and how you can help make a difference.

By educating the public and making them aware of the signs and warnings we can save lives. Suicide is a silent epidemic that isn't affected by barriers such as race, religion or social status. We have all seen that first hand. It can strike anywhere, anyone. The truth is that many people who die by suicide don't want to end their life, but they want to end their pain.

From what we have been told, the schools have been introduced to a program from the state about 6 months ago. From what we understand the program hasn't been implemented at the level it should be. Right now, our community still places a stigma on depression which can ultimately lead to suicide. By not allowing the kids to learn more, and help eachother, we are setting the kids up that really need help. Setting them up for failure. The stigma often makes them feel that they shouldn't talk about their feelings or that they can't ask for help. How can we save these kids and young adults unless we educate them, provide them tools and offer them help.

Hannah is currently working with The Jason Foundation as well as The Million Voices campaign in order to bring a curriculum into our area. Kids respond to their peers better than they do an adult. There are many warning signs that we all overlook. Things we just take for granted and don't realize that they are cries for help. Hannah spent time talking with her friends just hours before they died. She didn't know what was happening. But, often times people have alreay made up their mind and their decision is one they are content with. This is the type of knowledge we need to put out there.

Once she has the program in place, her goal is to start educating kids as early as elementary school. They don't need tons of details, however, they start to transition at an early age and find themselves facing challenges and situations they can't handle. Since the kids that are gone were friends of hers, she is involving their families in her project. Showing them that they children won't be forgotten.

Additionally, we would like to work with the youth groups in our community as well as the surrounding ones to provide them with information too. Just remember if you can prevent just one suicide you can save hundreds of lives. The lives of their family, friends, and entire communities.

What it comes down to is that everyone needs to quit sticking their head in the sand and come out of the darkness. Let these kids know that it is ok to talk and that there are people out there that can help them. Suicide isn't a taboo word. It's a reality.

Hannah has been visiting businesses and individuals in our town and explaining what she is working to achieve. It is obviously something that people want to help with as the support has been overwhelming. It just takes someone to get it started.

By entering the MMOT pageant this summer it will allow Hannah to network with teens and adults from across the state. Let's start there.

If you would like to know more about what the plan is for implementing these programs right here in Miles City, please feel free to email us and we can provide you with much information. Again, by providing others with information we are educating.

There are many things that Hannah will be working on throughout the summer to increase awareness. She doesn't want suicide to be the topic for a couple of days when someone dies. She wants to show people how to get help, let others know what they can do to help someone and implement a media campaign across the community and possibly the state. A media plan such as the one like the Meth campaign.

We need to get our schools involved. We are working on getting the youth groups involved and will be considering holding and "Out of the Darkness" walk which is along the lines of Relay for Life. However, it brings people together to bring suicide into the light.

Again, Hannah would be more than happy to share information with you. If you would like to become part of the team that works on this, please contact us and we can begin working together. We all have kids, and those kids have friends. 13 and 14 year olds shouldn't have to experience loss like this. Parents shouldn't have to lose their children and brothers and sisters shouldn't be left alone.

We will keep you posted on the status of her progress as well as what she is working on. We are going to be launching a website especially for our community.

The Miss Montana Outstanding Teen Finals are going to be held in Sidney June 13th if you would like to support our own Miles City teen in helping to promote this. If you would like to help sponsor her in any way, please contact her.

I have to commend her for her courage to not be afraid to face this head on. Just remember, there isn't one way to prevent suicide but there are 600. We just have to know what to look for.

[This message has been edited by Julie H (5/27/2009)]
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Posted by Samantha (+115) 12 years ago
sounds like you have a really awesome daughter. i'm not sure if it's been mentioned on this blog yet but it does seem like this happens all toooften around here. almost like it's something to do. drinking,drugs, suicide. which one today? I'm not trying to sound as if I cracking a joke but it seems that way. I say ROCK ON to your daughter and I'm happy to hear about what she's taking a stand on at such a young age. very remarkable.
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Posted by Julie H (+199) 12 years ago
bump
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Posted by City Grant Administrator (+78) 12 years ago
This program, which will air again on TUESDAY, JUNE 16 at 8 PM on MontanaPBS, will be of interest and benefit to the individuals and groups here in Miles City that are developing local programs to deal with a problem that is affecting the entire State of Montana, and it provides a great opportunity for families to discuss the issue:

Unspoken: Voices Of Suicide In Montana

Hear real stories from survivors, friends and family of those who have taken their own lives. Through multiple interviews, people speak out about suicide in Montana, its underlying causes and prevention efforts, hoping to spark a larger discussion on the issue. (First Aired Thursday, May 21, 2009)
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Posted by John Aliff (+17) 12 years ago
I want to help, so if you would direct me in that area that would be great.I live in butte but grew up in mc and think it is ideal to get as much support as possible for anything that will help change that small community.You can email me at [email protected]
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supporter
Posted by Steve Craddock (+2743) 12 years ago
In the "Carradine" thread, Kyle posted a link to "The Bridge" and that led me to this New Yorker article (link below) which provides some amazing insights into the suicidal mind as well as our societal response (or failure to respond, actually). It tells a couple of stories that illustrate how amazingly easy MIGHT be to prevent SOME suicides, and then it describes even a "liberal" place like San Francisco is reluctant to do anything about it.

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2003/10/13/031013fa_fact

Obviously people don't need a 300 foot high bridge over the bay -- the Yellowstone, or a gun, or even the interstate can be just as effective for someone out to escape their private pain and Hell.

Hopefully, we in Miles City can provide a more humane and effective response as a community.
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supporter
Posted by Wendy Wilson (+6165) 12 years ago
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Posted by Jody K (+106) 12 years ago
There is a documentary called "The Bridge" about people committing suicide on the Golden Gate bridge. Sad. I haven't seen it but saw it talked about on a talk show. You can see clips online.
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supporter
Posted by Steve Craddock (+2743) 12 years ago
Thanks Wendy. I obviously forgot to format. Thanks for "having my back"!
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Posted by Julie H (+199) 12 years ago
I wanted to take a minute and tell everyone thanks for taking such an interest in this. I previously posted a very detailed explaination of some things that are in the works by my daughter who is only 13. She is now working with several state and local agencies who have let her know that the first step to helping anyone is to educate them. All of the agencies said that by having someone their own age get involved might make a huge impact on them even if they tell them the same things an adult might.

She is working to create a community educational program. She recently met a woman from Bozeman who just graduated from Colorado State and is interested in helping Hannah to implement the plan here in MC. Once we get something implemented here we can press on and help other communities.

She is in the process of making a DVD that shows some faces of the young generation who have died of suicide and it's message is that they are not just statistics but they have names and they were her friends. It's partially done but we will try to make it available for the public to view when completed.

Also, we have had a tremendous response to our original post. If you would like to help in any way, please feel free to contact us via email at [email protected] . In a few weeks we will hopefully have a more defined direction and can begin working with others.

Thanks again for believing in the young adults who are the future and believing in our community.

[This message has been edited by Julie H (6/8/2009)]
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Posted by Julie H (+199) 12 years ago
ORIGINAL POST FROM 5/27:


This is finally a topic that people are realizing needs to come out of the dark and into the light. There are things in the works right now to start educating kids of all ages and young adults. Right now, Montana is rated #3 only behind Wyoming and Alaska. However, a recent workshop that my daughter and I attended as well as current information we received from the state shows that Custer County has the highest rate per capita.

My daughter, a 7th grader at WMS lost 2 friends, her dad lost a young co-worker and Hannah lost a dance instructor in a suicide related death. All since 8/25/08.

Just recently she became a finalist in the Miss Montana Outstanding Teen program where her goal is to promote suicide awareness and prevention. She is currently working with 2 national organizations and also with the State Director of Suicide Awareness. It is a huge undertaking for a 13 year old but she doesn't want to lose anyone else. The only time that suicide is brought up is when someone dies. It should be coming up all the time, that's the only way to help.

This biggest factor in making an impact on suicide attempts and successes will come from educating people and making them aware of the signs, warnings, and how you can help make a difference.

By educating the public and making them aware of the signs and warnings we can save lives. Suicide is a silent epidemic that isn't affected by barriers such as race, religion or social status. We have all seen that first hand. It can strike anywhere, anyone. The truth is that many people who die by suicide don't want to end their life, but they want to end their pain.

From what we have been told, the schools have been introduced to a program from the state about 6 months ago. From what we understand the program hasn't been implemented at the level it should be. Right now, our community still places a stigma on depression which can ultimately lead to suicide. By not allowing the kids to learn more, and help eachother, we are setting the kids up that really need help. Setting them up for failure. The stigma often makes them feel that they shouldn't talk about their feelings or that they can't ask for help. How can we save these kids and young adults unless we educate them, provide them tools and offer them help.

Hannah is currently working with The Jason Foundation as well as The Million Voices campaign in order to bring a curriculum into our area. Kids respond to their peers better than they do an adult. There are many warning signs that we all overlook. Things we just take for granted and don't realize that they are cries for help. Hannah spent time talking with her friends just hours before they died. She didn't know what was happening. But, often times people have alreay made up their mind and their decision is one they are content with. This is the type of knowledge we need to put out there.

Once she has the program in place, her goal is to start educating kids as early as elementary school. They don't need tons of details, however, they start to transition at an early age and find themselves facing challenges and situations they can't handle. Since the kids that are gone were friends of hers, she is involving their families in her project. Showing them that they children won't be forgotten.

Additionally, we would like to work with the youth groups in our community as well as the surrounding ones to provide them with information too. Just remember if you can prevent just one suicide you can save hundreds of lives. The lives of their family, friends, and entire communities.

What it comes down to is that everyone needs to quit sticking their head in the sand and come out of the darkness. Let these kids know that it is ok to talk and that there are people out there that can help them. Suicide isn't a taboo word. It's a reality.

Hannah has been visiting businesses and individuals in our town and explaining what she is working to achieve. It is obviously something that people want to help with as the support has been overwhelming. It just takes someone to get it started.

By entering the MMOT pageant this summer it will allow Hannah to network with teens and adults from across the state. Let's start there.

If you would like to know more about what the plan is for implementing these programs right here in Miles City, please feel free to email us and we can provide you with much information. Again, by providing others with information we are educating.

There are many things that Hannah will be working on throughout the summer to increase awareness. She doesn't want suicide to be the topic for a couple of days when someone dies. She wants to show people how to get help, let others know what they can do to help someone and implement a media campaign across the community and possibly the state. A media plan such as the one like the Meth campaign.

We need to get our schools involved. We are working on getting the youth groups involved and will be considering holding and "Out of the Darkness" walk which is along the lines of Relay for Life. However, it brings people together to bring suicide into the light.

Again, Hannah would be more than happy to share information with you. If you would like to become part of the team that works on this, please contact us and we can begin working together. We all have kids, and those kids have friends. 13 and 14 year olds shouldn't have to experience loss like this. Parents shouldn't have to lose their children and brothers and sisters shouldn't be left alone.

We will keep you posted on the status of her progress as well as what she is working on. We are going to be launching a website especially for our community.

The Miss Montana Outstanding Teen Finals are going to be held in Sidney June 13th if you would like to support our own Miles City teen in helping to promote this. If you would like to help sponsor her in any way, please contact her.

I have to commend her for her courage to not be afraid to face this head on. Just remember, there isn't one way to prevent suicide but there are 600. We just have to know what to look for.

[This message has been edited by Julie H (5/27/2009)]
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Posted by Julie H (+199) 12 years ago
Congratulations Miles City! We are finally making a difference. Hannah received tremendous support from our community while she participated in the Miss Montana Outstanding Teen Competition where she was able to share her message about Teen Suicide Awareness and Prevention. While at the competition over the weekend we learned that:

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has scheduled an "Out Of The Darkness Walk" for October 10, 2009 in Miles City. Please visit this website for more information or to join the Walk.

Hannah has been working with several organizations to help raise awareness in our community. She will also be walking with Brittany Wise of Bozeman, a current Miss Montana contestant, at other OOTD Walks this year.

Please considering joining our team or creating your own in order to make this event successful. We'll keep you posted on other community awareness events to help promote Suicide Awareness and Prevention.

Help us to raise awareness and save lives. Support this event in the Memory of ALL of those we've known who have lost their lives to suicide.

Please pass this information on to others in our community. Share the information about the Walk scheduled for October 10, 2009 @ Riverside Park.

General Out Of The Darkness Walk Information
http://afsp.donordrive.co...tination=E

Hannah Harris' Personal Team and Fundraising Site for
2009 Miles City Out Of The Darkness Walk


http://afsp.donordrive.co...ntID=48586

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at [email protected] We will be part of the Event Organization. Thanks Miles City!

[This message has been edited by Julie H (6/15/2009)]
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newbie
Posted by Willy (+6) 12 years ago
i had a sister who commited suicide and if you saw her before she did it you would have thought nothing was wrong...we need suicide talks because i think it would really help
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Posted by Julie H (+199) 12 years ago
Willy, you are so right. Education and awareness will really help. Most people don't recognize some of the signs of suicide until it is to late. I know that Hannah and I have learned so much since she started working on this. There are things that are so easily missed.

Like your sister, the friends she lost are ones that you never would have thought would be ones to take their own lives. Athletes, intelligent kids who come from good, stable families. Suicide doensn't discriminate because of age, race or social status. Everyone is at risk for becoming a statistic. People can mask their moods to the point that nobody can tell.

We are working really hard to bring an educational program to our community. To let everyone know that it's ok to talk about suicide and mental illness. That they can ask for help. It is something that needs to be on-going and not just an occassional lesson.

I believe that our community is strong and caring and that if we join together, we can and will make a difference.

Thank you again for sharing your story. Please consider registering for the Out Of The Darkness Walk to be held October 10th right here in Miles City. It's a great way to help raise money for education and to remember those we loved but have lost.

Here is a link to register if you are interested. This is for Hannah's Team -- Into The Light. You are welcome to join her team so that we can show the unity and support of MC. You are also welcome to register to walk as an individual or start a team of your own. We would love to have you participate.
http://afsp.donordrive.co...amID=10003
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Posted by Maureen Secrest (+45) 12 years ago
Good article in last nite's (Fri.) Star on Suicide.
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Posted by Julie H (+199) 12 years ago
bump...

Keep registering. There has been a fantastic response to this event. Please continue to spread the word and sign-up for the Walk.

Thanks Miles City!
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Posted by lorrie (+4) 12 years ago
OK, I happened across this article totally on accident, I was looking up the murder/suicide involving my high school bf some 25 yrs or so ago. Anyway this caught my attn. My 18 yr old daughter attempted suicide a few months ago(she was already in counseling). This is a VERY hard subject to face.We asked the questions, sought help through many sources!! Yes, I believe there is a chemical imbalance 1st and foremost that needs to be addressed, but then we have to remember that the drugs that DRS use are iffy on helping these young ones that are still developing. 2nd, I also believe that as a result the family environment plays a very big role in these already struggling teens.(now the BUT...)In this day and age society is not going to get better unfortunately:-(. The gangs, sexual orientations,child molesters etc.) It REALLY is hard to raise healthy children now days!!! Our families are hurting each other, (sometimes without knowing)and I feel strongly that it takes the whole family, extended to the utmost!!! to raise healthy kids. Not to mention having a relationship with our schools, law enforcement, coaches, other parents, our whole communities!!!!! I happened to read Danielle Steeles' true story about her sons' struggle 2 weeks before her attempt and I feel I got alot out of it but for ms. Steele it still wasnt enough:-(. We can only do the best we can and trust in some higher power during our struggles of the world we are passing through. My thoughts and prayers are with you ALL!!!!
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Posted by ss (+19) 12 years ago
I commend you Alicia for having the courage to post anything on this site. I am sorry that you got attacked by a few people for your concern on this issue. The person who did this should instead be giving you advice and tips as another response suggested.

I agree with you that suicide should be addressed by schools. While I was in high school, I remember 3 people committed suicide who had strong connections to the school. And after this happened, there were no meetings with speakers talking to the students, there was nothing that was done at all to try to prevent this from happening again or towards trying to help those students who were close to the person who died.

Although one speaker coming to the school once a year is probably not going to do a lot, at least the school can say that they are trying to do something. If it saves even one life, it is worth it. Students may not be aware that they need to tell someone if they hear another person talking about killing themselves. I have heard of many cases were a young person just thinks that the person is joking and dismisses it and later that person does kill themselves. This is one thing that would be addressed by a speaker, and it would probably be news to a lot of the young people.

No, this problem will not go away by ignoring it. I have seen statistics that Montana meth usage went down dramatically after the introduction of the Montana Meth Project. Schools talk to students about drugs, and in some of my classes in high school, we spent a few days focusing on the Meth Project. Why not do this with suicide also? It sure couldn't hurt!!
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