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Graduation Date


Document Type

Professional Paper


Master of Public Health (MPH)

Degree Name

Public Health

School or Department

Public and Community Health Sciences


Objective: Suicide rates continue to increase despite various suicide prevention efforts. This study’s objective is to examine suicides in the State of Montana to ascertain suicide decedents’ demographics and the effectiveness of interventions to guide future prevention programs.

Method: Data from 1,665 suicide decedents’ death certificates were analyzed for age, ethnicity, veteran status, gender, education level, and means of suicide. Four types of suicide prevention strategies were examined for association with regional suicide rates: psychotherapist concentration, gatekeeper training, presence of county public health suicide prevention programs, and pre- post-implementation of statewide public service announcements.

Results: Compared with the general Montana population, suicide decedents tended to be male, Caucasian and Native American, veteran, and less educated. While firearms were the most common means overall, Native Americans were more likely to die by suicide via hanging. Concentration of psychotherapists tended toward statistical significance, while number of gatekeeper trainees, county public health suicide prevention programs, and public service announcements had no association.

Conclusion: Using death certificate data, this study delineated patterns of suicide deaths. It did not find any association between common suicide prevention programs and suicide rates. Implications for future prevention programs are discussed.

Utilizing Suicide Death Certificates to Evaluate Suicide Prevention Programs:  A Descriptive and Ecological Study