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Missoula Healthy Kids Indicators - 2020



Nationally, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among young people 15 to 24 years of age, taking more than 12 of every 100,000 American young people. National Institute of Mental Health

Mental health is a state of successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and to cope with challenges. Mental health is essential to personal well-being, family and interpersonal relationships, and the ability to contribute to community or society.  HP 2020

Mental disorders are health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, and/or behavior that are associated with distress and/or impaired functioning. Mental disorders contribute to a host of problems that may include disability, pain, or death.  HP 2020

Mental health and physical health are closely connected. Mental health plays a major role in people’s ability to maintain good physical health. Mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, affect people’s ability to participate in health-promoting behaviors. In turn, problems with physical health, such as chronic diseases, can have a serious impact on mental health and decrease a person’s ability to participate in treatment and recovery.  HP 2020

Over the past 20 years, research on the prevention of mental disorders has progressed. The understanding of how the brain functions under normal conditions and in response to stressors, combined with knowledge of how the brain develops over time, has been essential to that progress. The major areas of progress include evidence that:



Healthy People 2020 Target

Reduce adolescent suicide attempt rate
          Base – 1.9/100          Target – 1.7/100

The US Dept of Health and Human Services sponsors the Healthy People objectives,
 a science-based, 10-year national plan for improving the health of all Americans.

How are we doing

Suicide numbers alone do not represent all the suicide attempts, nor deaths not reported as suicide, e.g., motor vehicle crashes caused by suicidal behavior; family members withholding information for insurance reasons; or fear of the stigma attached to suicide, etc. Nationwide, there are 25 suicide attempts for every completed suicide; and only a small percentage of suicide-related injuries are treated by medical personnel and subsequently reported as attempted suicide.

Overall, suicide rates in the Western states have consistently been higher than those for the U.S. in general. Montana has consistently ranked in the top 5 for the highest suicide rate.

When attempting suicide, men are apt to use more lethal methods that cannot be interrupted, like guns and hanging. Women attempt suicide 3-4 times more often than men but are more likely to use drugs or poisons. Also, women are more likely to seek and accept help when faced with depression or other problems.

Nationwide, the rate of suicide among youth (aged 15 - 24 years) has increased 200% since the 1960’s compared to 17% in the general population. Male youth are four times more likely to complete suicide than are female youth. Females are at greater risk for suicide attempts than male youth or any other age group.

Firearms are the most common method of suicide among the 15 – 24 age group. The presence of a loaded gun in the home is the single most powerful risk factor. The combined suicide risk attributed to alcohol use, living alone, and not having a high school degree match the risks of gun ownership.

SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, US Dept Health & Human Services

Missoula has 1-2 youth suicides per year, most of them being males.  Every completed suicide of a young person is a tragedy.


For Additional Data and Information important for evaluating this topic, click here.


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