BOZEMAN – Montana had a rate of 29.2 suicides per 100,000 people from 2014-2016, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Nearly double the national rate of 15.4 per 100,000 people during the same time frame.
Tracy Rassley, who lost her son to suicide, wants to change that narrative. This is the second year her and her husband have held Touchdowns for Patrick, a flag football fundraiser held at Belgrade High School’s Football field.
All of the donations and proceeds from the event go toward a $1,000 scholarship given out to a senior at Belgrade High School to use towards their future education, whether that be a 4-year, 2-year college, or shorter programs like an apprenticeship or cosmetology school.
Last year, only one scholarship was handed out but Rassley said this year they decided to give out two because they couldn’t pick between the applicants.
Rassley is grateful to have people show up each year to have fun but still remember her son.
“It is really bittersweet a lot of the times,” Tracy Rassley said. “It is hard, for him to be gone, and so doing this and making sure that there are these other kids out there, that have this opportunity is really really important to us.”
Rassley said it’s important that suicide and mental health is talked about instead of just being the white elephant in the room. She encourages anyone who is struggling to reach out to get help.
The National Suicide Prevention Line can be reached any time at 1-800-273-8255.
Reporting by Mederios Babb for MTN News