“These types of demographics and statistics are unacceptable.”
That’s what Senator Windy Boy, sponsor of Montana Legislative House Bill 118, said in regards to suicide rates in Montana.
“We’re ranked among the highest in suicide nationwide,” said Windy Boy. “Indian Country is ranked the highest in Montana.” He continued, “This is the first step in reducing that,” adding that he wants to thank the governor and the Legislature for their support in “making sure this was a priority in this session.”
The major contribution to this Bill to include the science of toxic stress, the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study and resilience came from Representative Jessica Karjala. Karjala had worked tirelessly on a Bill specific to ACEs and resilience, which included a pilot project, but it was tabled in hearing. The staff at ChildWise Institute worked closely with Karjala and were also very disappointed that the Committee did not fully grasp the importance of advancing awareness and actions throughout Montana based on what we know about ACEs, toxic stress, and resilience. While having ACEs included in Bill 118 is a good thing, it is only the beginning of what needs to be addressed in Montana to elevate the well-being of its children, youth, families, and communities. Suicide is, of course, only one of many serious negative health or social outcomes of childhood adversity according to the data of the ACE Study. We have a lot of work to do, still.
Stay tuned for the next Montana Legislative session in 2019! We’ve already started the work!