BOZEMAN, Mont. - The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office is reaching out to the public about a heartbreaking trend, as the number of suicide threats in the county have gone up in the last two weeks and the sheriff believes those incidents are linked to the current global situation.
Gallatin County says that while mental health calls put into emergency responders haven't increased, the number of attempted and completed suicides have. Officials are keeping a close eye on the situation.
From March 6 to March 24 across agencies in the Gallatin Valley, there were 111 calls for police, sheriff's deputies, and firefighters that were related to mental health, according to a post from the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office Facebook page. More than every two out of five of those calls were suicide threats.
There were nine suicide attempts, and three that were completed. Those numbers don't account for the suicidal people who self-reported to Bozeman's Hope House or the hospital, which could make the number of suicidal people in the area even higher than those numbers suggest.
Authorities say many of the victims they spoke to already had pre-existing mental health struggles that were only made worse by the stress of the last few weeks and the coronavirus pandemic.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin says there's no doubt what's causing these situations.
"It's absolutely to do with the coronavirus. But we're not really focused on that, we're just focused on doing our jobs and making sure that we're out there for the people and that if you're hurting and you need somebody, you call 211 or 911 and we will get you help."
Gootkin adds that he believes these numbers are only going to increase as the coronavirus spreads in Montana, and he's urging people to seek help.
Some of this coming because so many people around the globe are living in a time that is so different from our daily lives, with much more stress, isolation, and fear.
If you know anyone who might have a history of mental health problems, you are urged to check in on them.
If you have thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please, call 911 or 211. They are there to help you.
For other local southwest Montana resources that remain accessible during the "safer at home" policy:
–The Help Center (currently available by phone 24/7): Call (406) 586-3333 for crisis service. Head to montana211.org for their guide to local resources like food, housing, employment, and legal assistance.
– Crisis Text Line (available 24/7): Text “MT” to 741-741
– Western Montana Mental Health Center (currently available, offering online/phone therapy): Schedule by calling (406) 556-6500
– Acute Crisis Services (currently available through Hope House and Bozeman Deaconess Hospital): For Hope House call (406) 585-1130 and for Bozeman Deaconess Emergency Department call (406) 585-1000. Please call ahead.
- Montana Warmline (currently available via phone): Call (877) 688-3377 to talk to someone about depression and anxiety
- HAVEN for domestic violence and abuse situations (24/7 support hotline): Call (406) 586-4111
Here's the full post from the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office: