United Way is hosting Suicide Prevention Week in Missoula from September 4th through the 10th. Chief Executive Officer Susan Hay Patrick says they are approaching things a little different with this year’s event.

“This year we wanted to, in observance of National Suicide Prevention Week, use the creative forces of art, drama, film, and the written and spoken word to shine a light of hope on mental health issues and the tragedy of suicide in our community,” said Patrick. “We also want to reduce the stigma associated.”

According to Patrick, Missoula had a record number of suicides last year.

“There were 68 suicides in total in 2014 and 2015 and that is a record level in our community,” Patrick said. “Montana is number one in the nation. I think if you look at factors in the states that have high suicide rates, they are mostly rural and isolated with a high percentage of gun ownership.”

Patrick says as a nation we target most of our prevention efforts on kids, but the people who are really taking their own lives are men in the age of 45 to 60.

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