GREAT FALLS – Following the suicide deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain earlier this summer, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline phone number was shared by many people across the country on social media.
In Montana, the Voices of Hope hotline received increased calls, which director Jackie Gittins says is a good thing because people are reaching out.
Montana continually ranks among the top states in the nation for suicide rates.
Isolation, disconnect, and loneliness can affect any person, but mental health experts say as people age, those feelings, sometimes prompted by circumstance, can be more prevalent.
“Depression is not a part of aging. Depression is something that happens to an individual, it has nothing to do with their age,” explains licensed professional counselor Maureen McInnis.
“They are kind of the silent population because they are people we stop seeing, they isolate. As they get older and their friends start to die, they don’t have their friends around anymore,” said McInnis.
“Cowboy up,” and “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” are common mottoes in Montana to deal with troubled times, and an approach to life many of the state’s more senior population may have grown up embracing.
“Mental health or any kind of emotion was seen as negative, so nobody wants to be seen as weak, so they see that as a negative. I can’t go get help for my mental health issues or when I’m feeling depressed because then people will judge me and I’ll be weak, and I don’t want to be weak. So we won’t see anybody,” McInnis said.
Connection is key for providing support to seniors, whether it be a neighbor, at the doctor’s office, a senior center, or a hotline. Voices of Hope provides a voice on the other end of the phone that not only provides resources, but is there to listen.
“If we can acknowledge the pain they’re feeling is real, because they’re in pain. No different than the pain from a broken leg. We can’t see it. And because we can’t see it, they can’t even tell you where it hurts. It hurts all over,” said Jackie Gittins, Voices of Hope hotline director.
Gittins and McInnis say we all can play a role in changing culture, and someone’s life by being willing to acknowledge, and approach others who are struggling, rather than shy away.
“Because they’re human beings. It doesn’t matter if you like them, if they’ve done you wrong. They are somebody’s mother, father, grandmother, they do matter to somebody,” Gittins explained.
“I think it’s good humanity, good neighborliness, I think we should all be looking out for each other whether we’re older or younger,” said McInnis.
The Voice of Hope hotline number for those in the Great Falls area, is 406-453-HELP.
If you are in crisis and want help, call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime at 1-800-273-TALK or text “MT” to 741741.
Reporting by Shannon Newth for MTN News
Suicide awareness and prevention resources:
- If you are in crisis and want help, call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or text “MT” to 741 741
- Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services: http://dphhs.mt.gov/amdd/Suicide.aspx
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- AFSP Montana
- Montana Suicide Hotlines: http://www.suicide.org/hotlines/montana-suicide-hotlines.html
- GREAT FALLS Crisis Line (406) 453-4357
- HELENA Mental Health Service (406) 443-5353
- Voices of Hope: http://www.voicesofhope.info/suicide-hotline.php
- Montana Prevention Resource Center 406-444-9772
Provides assistance to programs that focus on teen pregnancy, youth drug and alcohol abuse, child abuse, school dropout, and juvenile crime and delinquency.
- Montana Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence: P.O. Box 818 Helena MT 59624; Hotline: (406) 443-7794
- Montana Foundation for Suicide Prevention: 16 Shiland Street P.O. Box 1205 Helena, MT 59624
Hotline: (406) 431-8996
- Web: Montana Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- You Are Not Alone Network
Great Falls Vet Center 615 2nd Ave N, Great Falls, MT 59401; (406) 452-9048
- #BeThere campaign info
- Spread the Word ideas
- Resources for Veterans