Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College


Committee Chair

G.G. Weix

Commitee Members

Gregory Campbell, Gilbert Quintero


Suicide, Landscape, History, Heritage, Agriculture, Montana


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Cultural History | Multicultural Psychology | Oral History | Public Health | Social and Cultural Anthropology


Montana has had one of the highest suicide rates in the nation for half a century, and since 2000, it has risen almost 50%. Despite suicide’s alarming persistence in the state, there has been minimal academic study of suicide or mental health specifically in Montana, so this thesis attempts to answer a few questions: Why does Montana have such a high suicide rate? Is there something culturally, historically, or socially unique about Montana that contributes to suicide? Are current prevention efforts helpful, harmful, or lacking? Could a consideration of culture and land benefit an understanding of suicide in Montana? What has caused the recent increase in rate? Employing a medical anthropology perspective, this thesis reviews Montana suicide factors and suicide prevention efforts, with particular emphasis on how local history and place might influence health—given Montanans’ close ties to land. It proposes the new idea that Montana’s especially high suicide in rural communities might be linked to industrial agriculture, which has had pervasive harmful effects on rural society. Finally, it offers a potential healing alternative in the form of paradigm-shifting agricultural efforts across Montana that seek to reverse the harms of industrial agriculture and instead emphasize community, healthy land, and rural vitality.



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