Western Montana’s major suicide prevention collaborative re-launched under a new name today.
Project Tomorrow Montana is the successor of the Western Montana Suicide Prevention Initiative which was founded in 2014. It operates under the auspices of United Way. The group of nonprofits, businesses, educational and public-sector leaders wanted to reduce Montana’s high suicide rate.
Two years later, it’s still high — double the national average — and shows little sign of subsiding.
United Way of Missoula County CEO, Susan Hay Patrick:
"We came together and decided that we really needed to raise our game, especially as the holiday season approached, given the spike in suicides in our community in January of both 2014 and 2015."
Patrick on Monday announced the Wells Fargo Foundation awarded the group a $10,000 grant. That money will be used for a multi-media outreach campaign to publicize suicide-prevention resources.
Missoula Mayor John Engen appeared at Monday’s press conference. Engen recently announced he’s a recovering alcoholic. He says too many alcoholics end up dying:
"And that demise comes, in many cases, as a function of suicide. That suicide can be slow or it can be quick, but it’s often completed for folks who suffer from this disease if they’re not treated."
Engen says people who are depressed or troubled need the kind of hope provided by programs like Project Tomorrow Montana:
"This community effort means that lives will be saved, that lives will be changed, that the community cost will be diminished," Engen says. "It means that more folks will be able to live full, complete lives in our community, that suffering will be tempered. If the holidays for me are about anything. It’s about tempering that suffering."