Montana | 50 states of population health

CRAIG AASVED. CEO of Shodair Children's Hospital (Helena, Mont.)

On the top challenge

"I believe suicide continues to be the most significant threat facing Montana today. At Shodair, about 75 percent of patients admitted to our acute care unit have attempted suicide. Between 2005 and 2014, 2,199 Montana residents completed suicide for an average of 220 people per year. Montana has had one of the highest suicide rates in the country for nearly 40 years.

Access to lethal means (firearms), alcohol, a sense of being a burden, social isolation, altitude undiagnosed and untreated mental illness, lack of resilience and coping skills, and a societal stigma looming over depressing, all contribute to the issue of suicide in Montana. The second leading cause for preventable death for Montana children right behind suicide is motor vehicle crashes."

On the hospital's response

"These trends cannot continue. Shodair's mental health services are available to all Montana children, regardless of their family's ability to pay. We are expanding our focus to become deeply engaged in prevention, awareness and education. We have been collaborating with individuals, lawmakers and organizations to identify ways to engage in promoting resiliency within our state's adolescent population. As a leader in mental healthcare in Montana, this is logical place of engagement for us. There is no one sure fix to address this complex matter; rather, a myriad of efforts will collectively make the difference needed. The team at Shodair is committed to be at the foundation of those efforts."

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