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Organizations and mental health professionals met in Billings to talk about preventing suicide



Billings, Montana – A symposium on suicide prevention in Yellowstone County was held on Friday morning in Billings by the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Yellowstone Valley.

Healthcare professionals are gathering to discuss strategies to reduce suicide and suicidal ideation in Yellowstone County because Montana has one of the highest rates of suicide in the country, ranking among the top five states.

According to Sarah Music, the chairman of the Suicide Prevention Coalition, one in four county residents experience suicide thoughts, which is why it’s critical to link them with the resources they require.

One method to achieve that, according to Sarah, is to look for signs of depression at routine medical visits.

“Our community health centers are screening for suicide every chance they get just to make sure that people are connected to the services that they need and also the integrated behavioral health space, all of our health entities are a part of that, and that way we can get them connected to behavior health right in the clinic.” Said Music .

Although discussing suicide is difficult, RiverStone Health physician Shae Saunders advises medical professionals to become more at ease in doing so in order to dispel stigma and foster community trust.

She went on to say that knowing the community in which you operate is essential to provide mental health services in it.

“I would encourage anyone that is working with someone of different backgrounds, or experiencing homelessness, people who struggle with substance abuse, or those who have been incarcerated understand how to approach your patience and the culture that you are working in is a huge part of being able to build trust and for people to be able to come to you with those issues.” Said Dr. Saunders.

According to Sarah, The Coalition is constantly striving to improve our behavioral health systems so that everyone in the community has access to quality medical treatment for both physical and mental health issues.

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