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Montana Broadcasters renew commitment to suicide awareness and prevention

Posted at 11:32 AM, Apr 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 13:32:17-04

HELENA – Governor Steve Bullock was joined by the Montana Broadcasters Association (MBA) on Tuesday to renew their commitment towards bringing awareness about suicide prevention in Montana.

Since April of 2017, the MBA has partnered with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) to produce TV and radio public service announcements to address the statewide epidemic.

“We know Montana has led the nation for years with our high suicide rate, but there are successes and we are gaining ground,” said Sheila Hogan, DPHHS Director.

State officials say they’ve seen a 43 percent increase in calls to the prevention Lifeline and triple the number of texts to the Text Line since the PSA campaigns began in 2017.

Governor Bullock stressed at the press conference that suicide prevention is an issue that affects every Montanan in every part of the state.

“[Awareness] is critical because people in all corners of the state struggle with both mental illness at times and suicidal ideation,” said Bullock. “So really this lets people know there’s a place to go if you need help and it’s great the Montana Broadcasters Association put the muscle behind it to make everyone aware.”

MBA Board Chair Tamy Wagner said its members are committed to continuing a sustained public awareness campaign.

“Montanans need to be fully aware of the resources that exist,” said Wagner. “We know that in order to truly make an impact, these critical messages need to be reaching the public year-round. We are proud to continue this partnership.”

Suicide has been a major public health issue with the state being at or near the top in the nation for the rate of suicide for nearly four decades.

“We get sometimes numb by statistics but every single life saved is a life that is going to be substantially impacted. So we’ll continue to work on it from the Governor’s Office and from the stateside, but we need people in every community to work on it as well,” said Bullock.

In 2017, MBA, along with creative talent from the Montana Television Network and the Montana Radio Company, offered to produce and air the PSAs at no charge to the state. According to MBA President/CEO Dewey Bruce, the total estimated value for the last two years of production and airtime is well over $3 million.

If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts please reach out for help.

The Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-88-273-8255 and the Text Line can be accessed by texting “MT” to 741 741.

More information about suicide prevention in Montana can be found here.

This station part of the Montana Television Network and a member of a Montana Broadcaster Association.

John Riley – MTN News