Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services
Garrett Lee Smith State

Montana seeks to prevent both fatal and non-fatal suicidal behaviors among youth and young adults aged 10-24 years of age. The Montana Youth Suicide Prevention and Intervention Project (MYSPI) provides planning, coordination, and resources to communities so they can address risk and incidences of suicide attempts and completions, and to implement evidence-based programs to reduce youth suicide among Montana’s youth and young adults. To accomplish the goal preventing both fatal and non-fatal suicide behaviors among 10-24 year olds, the following objectives have been identified:

Objective 1: Improve access to and availability of appropriate prevention services for vulnerable youth in up to fifteen communities and one Institution of higher learning


  1. July 06 – Specific criteria for the RFP to be made available to public and private agencies across the state was identified.
  2. August 2006, An RFP to fund community and local projects to prevent youth suicide was made public and posted on the Department of Administration website
  3. September 1, 2006 Department of Administrative received 14 proposals for community projects in Montana to prevent youth suicide.
  4. September 15, 2006 an objective review committee met and discussed, reviewed and scored the proposals
  5. September 15, 2006 – 12 communities were notified of grant award for community project to prevent youth suicide.
  6. October 1, 2006 –  Entered into contractual agreements with the 12 funded YSP community projects
  7. October 24 and 25, 2006 – Training provided to the 12 funded YSP sites on cross-site evaluation and local evaluation by Stacy Johnson, OCR-Macro and Dr. Tim Dunnagan, MSU, Statewide evaluator
  8. The 2007 Montana Legislature passed Senate Bill 468 which is intended to fund a Statewide Suicide Prevention Coordinator to coordinate all suicide prevention activities being conducted by DPHHS and coordinate with any suicide prevention activities that are conducted by other state agencies, including the university system.  This bill also has funding to: develop a biennial suicide reduction plan that addresses reducing suicides; provide grants to communities or other entities to start new or sustain existing suicide prevention activities; provide a 24/7 suicide hotline staffed by paid trained employees; and conduct an annual review of hotline utilization and operator performance. Legislative funding is $800,000 for biennium.
  9. In August 2007, DPHHS’ YSP prevention coordinator traveled to Missoula to meet with local coordinators from Missoula, University of Montana and Western Montana Mental Health Center in Missoula. A discussion of the provision of parent presentations focused on information about suicide, mental health and talking to their kids about these issues in local communities was facilitated.
  10. Facilitated a conference call in September 2007 with 12 funded local contractors. Conference call agenda included 1) evaluation update and helpful hints as they continue to use the evaluation tools, 2) discussion of proposal to accomplish the grant activity of providing community parent presentations and 3) discussion of incorporating deliverables from Senate Bill 468 into existing efforts which will be presented at the next Task Force meeting in November 2007.

Objective 2: Increase access to and community linkages with mental health and substance abuse services throughout the state.

Key Activities

  1. December 2005 – DPHHS – CACH Section was designated state lead on suicide prevention to coordinate local Montana programs involved in suicide prevention and intervention
  2. January 2006 – DPHHS recruited task force members through letters, telephone calls and newspaper announcements in communities throughout Montana
  3. February 2006 – A statewide task force on youth and young adult suicide prevention was established. Appointments were made by the Director of our Department. 
  4. With support from Montana’s YSP Project, SPRC presented Suicide Prevention: Community Core Competencies in Helena on Jan. 31 and Feb.12006.  Approximately 50 people from around Montana were trained. Subcommittees of task force formed to discuss, define, develop and recommend guidelines
  5. March 24, 2006 – First Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force meeting was held in Helena. Louisa Holmes from SPRC presented to the public health model of suicide prevention.
  6. May 12, 2006 – Second Task Force meeting
  7. November 6, 2006 – Third Task Force meeting
  8. March 22, 2007 – Fourth Task Force meeting
  9. November 27, 2007 – Fifth Task Force meeting currently scheduled
  10. At all of the Task Force meetings, local communities work together to coordinate existing efforts regarding the issue of youth suicide.
  11. Collaboration with TLC YSP grant. In August, Deborah Henderson was appointed to their technical advisory board.  Attended meetings in August and October, 2006, January, April and August 2007.

Objective 3: By the end of the first year of the grant, activities for public information and awareness will be implemented in order to promote awareness that suicide is a public health problem and is preventable.

  1. March, 2006, met with executive director of the Montana Mental Health Association re: Public Service Announcements targeting youth. PSAs are being edited and the executive director presented at the Nov. 6 Task Force Meeting.
  2. Montana’s State Strategic Plan was distributed at the American Academy of Pediatrics, Montana Chapter meeting in June 2006 and to the Montana Legislature in January 2007.
  3. News segment aired with interview with the Project Director on local TV stations after a youth shot him self at school. SPRC guidelines on reporting suicide by the media distributed to major news outlets statewide.
  4. DPHHS Montana YSP Project coordinated with the Emergency Medical Services subcommittee to provide SPRC Core Competency Training in Yellowstone County.
  5. Numerous local projects support the deployment of QPR and ASSIST as well as other citizen/professional awareness and referral campaigns in those communities where referral resources exist.
  6. Two reservation based projects will be providing a skills-based curriculum for middle school-aged students.
  7. Several funded community projects will implement the Yellow Ribbon Campaign and student-run prevention awareness campaigns in schools.
  8. A link was added to the Department of Public Health’s website for Youth Suicide Prevention:
  9. The Columbia TeenScreen identification is being conducted by two contractors at the local level which includes a referral and follow-up program within local high schools. Free mental health screenings were also offered in several communities during Suicide Prevention Week in September 2007 and Mental Health Screening Day in October 2007.
  10. A suicide prevention panel presented information on the prevalence of suicide in Montana and local prevention efforts during the Montana Mental Health Association Annual conference which was held in May 2007.
  11. In July 2007, Montana’s YSP Director presented information on Montana’s grant activities at the National SPAN conference in DC.
  12. In September 2007, a suicide prevention panel presented possible policy solutions to the mental health and suicide crisis in Montana during the Montana Public Health Association conference.
  13. The Department of Public Health and Human Services entered into a contractual agreement with the Montana Mental Health Association to organize, train and empower youth in Montana to develop a public service announcement around suicide and stigma of mental illness which will be geared toward the youth in our state. A VISTA is working at the Mental Health Association on this project.