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Staying Mentally Healthy

Tim McEntire

To say the last year has been a tough one is an understatement. When we first started hearing about this new flu coming into the United States, who would have ever thought that it would turn into what it has today. Lockdowns and limited social gatherings have been hard on us especially the elderly and our kids who haven’t been able to experience school the way they should. Mix in a chaotic election year, the dark days of winter, a few costly break-downs that were unexpected and getting to the end of a long season you have a recipe to find yourself in a bad frame of mind. It’s when this state of mind gets the best of you and depression takes over, serious issues can arise.

You hear it from us Safety Rangers that one of the most dangerous parts of your working day is traveling to and from the jobsite. But for the first time, suicide has surpassed car accidents as the number 1 cause of injury-related death in the United States. According to the Montana Department of Health & Human Services, Montana has ranked in the top 5 for suicide rates in the nation for the past thirty years for all age groups. Males complete suicide at a rate four times that of females and the two largest groups in Montana that have the highest suicide rate are men aged 25-34 and 34-45. Approximately 90% of those who complete suicide suffer from mental illness. The most frequent diagnosis is Major Depression and the 2nd most frequent diagnosis is Alcoholism.

Warning Signs of Suicide

Here’s an Easy-to-Remember Mnemonic for the Warning Signs of Suicide: IS PATH WARM?

Ideation Expressed or communicated ideation threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself; and/or looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means; and/or talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary.

Substance Abuse Increased alcohol or drug use

Purposelessness No reason for living; no sense of purpose in life, start giving things away because there’s no purpose in keeping anything.

Anxiety Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time, difficulty concentrating

Trapped Feeling trapped (like there’s no way out and things will never get better)

Hopelessness Hopelessness, no future orientation

Withdrawal Withdrawal from friends, isolating from family and society

Anger Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge, irritable

Recklessness Acting reckless or engaging in high-risk activities, seemingly without thinking, impulsive behavior (especially in younger people)

Mood Change Dramatic mood changes, flat affect, depressed mood, acting out of character

VERY IMPORTANT-All suicidal ideations are serious and every precaution needs to be taken, even if you believe the action is purely to gain attention. NEVER PUT A PERSON IN THE POSITION OF NEEDING TO PROVE THAT THEY ARE SERIOUS. Suicidal ideations are a cry for help. DON’T AVOID THE TOPIC, TALK ABOUT THE FEELINGS AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO MENTION THE WORD “SUICIDE.” Most people will respond honestly. Many people are hesitant to bring up the subject of suicide for fear that they will be planting the idea in the mind of the person. This is a serious mistake! If the person is suicidal, asking them might lead to a conversation that could prevent the suicide.

The logging profession is not for the faint of heart and at times can knock you down an ugly path. Don’t let it get the best of you and don’t be afraid to reach out for help. If you are worried about one of the crew, don’t hesitate to act. You might be the one that saves them from doing something tragic. As the new year is upon us, let’s all hope that 2021 will treat us all well. And always remember, $afety $aves.

For additional resources, visit

If you are in crisis and want help, call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24/7, at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) Or text “MT” to 741 741

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