HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Alarmed by suicide rates persistently among the highest in the nation, Montana lawmakers moved closer Saturday to sending legislation to Gov. Steve Bullock authorizing $1 million to address a crisis that has long vexed public health officials, veterans groups, tribal leaders and other communities across the state.
The Senate’s overwhelming endorsement of a bill by Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, a Democrat from Box Elder and Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, represents a partial victory for anti-suicide crusaders who over the years have demanded the state provide more resources to combat the problem.
But even with this step, others say the state needs to do more to address the underlying factors that have led to one of the highest rates of suicide in the country, a blemish that has persisted over the past four decades. The state’s rate is twice the national average.
A report released last year identified 555 known suicides in the state between Jan. 1, 2014 and March 1, 2016.