by Eric Sharpe
Montana Fitness Magazine (aka MoFi) isn’t just about physical fitness. We constantly remind our readers that we are about fitness, health and wellness. It is a publication dedicated to covering and encouraging a holistic view of health in which everything is connected: mind, body, soul; each can affect one another. If one is out of balance, the rest can quickly go south.
With that in mind, this issue of MoFi dives deep into a topic that for some is too difficult to think about and for others is too controversial to write about. For MoFi, it is too important not to tackle head on. Depression and suicide have always been topics which bring a chill to any discussion. That chill tends to keep the topic held to hushed tones if it is even spoken about at all.
But when a health and wellness crisis is affecting our home state, tip-toeing around the subject simply won’t do. If an epidemic of any other illness were occurring, society would not be so quiet and Montana is truly facing an epidemic that is getting worse. Over the last 10 years, Montana has been among the top three states with the highest rate of suicide in the nation. From 2006 to 2015, Montana’s rates of suicide increased by 25% with a rate nearly twice the national average. Suicide in the United States is now at its highest levels in 75 years (at the end of the Great Depression).
The dynamic nature of depression and suicide makes it difficult to understand and prevent. Regardless, in this issue, we attempt to look more deeply into the possible underlying causes as they relate to generational factors, environment (ie – why Montana?), and cultural trends.
The only way to even attempt to do so is to approach it head on. During the course of this issue of MoFi, we will not dance around the issue: we will use the word “suicide” dozens of times rather than alluding to it in less coarse ways through exhaustive synonym replacements.
What This Issue Isn’t
Something to keep in mind when reading the work we’ve done in this special issue is that we don’t spend much time on the biological factors (chemical imbalances) play of depression and mental health issues which are most certainly often a key factor. Rather, our intent is to look at sociological factors that don’t get the focus they deserve in attempting to understand the epidemic Montana faces.
Additionally, we do not attempt to explain suicide itself. Though tremendously misunderstood by society, we can not begin to fully explain the multitude of precursors which can lead to such a dramatic act, nor can we attempt to explain these intricacies to a family who has lost a loved one to it. However, it is worthy to note that depression is an illness like no other, and suicide is not the “easy way out.” Some suicides are not a direct effort to end one’s life as much as it is a desperate act to end one’s mental or physical pain and anguish. Often, such pain is so overwhelming, thoughts of anything or anyone else are impossible -including the people who loved them most.
Finally, we must express that our intent is not to solve these problems. We do offer words of encouragement, but we are very aware that solutions require a systemic approach that exists far from the often cliché words of advice. Regardless, the staff at MoFi feel obligated to state some of the more obvious words of encouragement that maybe need to be heard again:
We do hope that at the very least, this issue prompts thought and understanding. Though a difficult read at times, we feel it vitally important – not just for those suffering, or their friends and family, but for our community as a whole.
If you find the content herein of value, please share it- with everyone. For as a community, the more knowledge we have, the more likely we have a chance of making, at the very least, a little difference.