Amid dire suicide rates in Montana, governor expands student mental health screening

Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte announced a $2.1 million grant using federal aid after state lawmakers rejected a bill that would have essentially addressed the same needs of young people at risk of suicide.


February 24, 2023

Keely Larson/KHN/UM Legislative News Service

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention hung strings of butterflies in the Montana Capitol representing the 348 deaths by suicide reported in Montana in 2021. Color-coded by age range, the yellow symbolized kids ages 11 to 18.

by Keely Larson | KHN-UM Legislative News Service

Bella Nyman has struggled with her mental health since age 7, when she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and anxiety.

Nyman said she was afraid to tell her parents she had thoughts of suicide. Looking back, a mental health screening might have helped her to stop hiding her struggles from adults and peers, she said.

"Hard things don't get better if we don't talk about them," Nyman said.

Today, Nyman works with the Rural Behavioral Health Institute, a Livingston, Montana-based organization that aims to reduce youth suicides by improving men...

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