National and Montana Suicide Prevention Week comes at just the right time for those in Missoula who are troubled by thoughts of suicide, especially during the COVID 19 shutdown and being isolated from friends, family and work.

Nancy Hobbins is the Suicide Prevention Coordinator with the Missoula City County Health Department, and said the actual number of suicides has declined.

“We are taking a really close look at what's happening and how this situation of social isolation is affecting people because isolation is a major risk factor for suicide,” said Hobbins. “While we're all trying to isolate to keep ourselves healthy, we're taking a look at what kind of effects that's having on mental health and we know that's raising anxiety for people. We are talking to our fellow community members and we have not seen increased numbers of suicide in Missoula County.”

Hobbins detailed the problems people are experiencing that have been exacerbated by COVID 19.

“We are seeing more people kind of fall off the wagon in terms of substance use,” she said. “There are those who are who are doing well and then kind of getting back into bad habits to maybe ease anxiety, but and we've seen more people reaching out for mental health resources. So our job here in our intervention in our prevention world is really to strengthen the safety net for people in mental health crises.”

 We are talking to our fellow community members and we have not seen increased numbers of suicide in Missoula County.

Hobbins outlined some of the events coming up during Suicide Prevention Week.

“We have a lot of events packed into that one week starting off with a kind of a performance that's geared toward middle school students that we have at the Missoula Paddleheads stadium at the beginning of the week, and then ending with the Out of the Darkness walk on September 12.”

Hobbins provided important contact numbers for anyone who may need help.

“My office is 258-3881, and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255, that's 1-800-273-TALK,” she said. “The Western Montana Mental Health Clinic has a walk in service that's over on their campus near Russell and Wyoming Street, their number is 542-8994.”

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