MISSOULA, Mont. - Statistics show Montana has ranked among the top five states with the highest suicide rates for 40 years.
An average of 15 Montanans attempt suicide everyday. Montana teens and young adults commit suicide at a rate roughly twice the national average and Missoula's rate is higher than the rest of the state.
Now, the Western Montana Suicide Prevention Initiative is working to align what many scattered groups are trying to do independently.
Susan Hay Patrick of the United Way of Missoula County told NBC Montana, "We know through research that most people truly don't want to kill themselves and, with proper help, they find the will to live. What is missing is a fully aligned effort to prevent suicide and intervene with people who have suicidal thoughts and tendencies. There's a lot of good work going on in our community, but what was lacking was an effort that brought everybody together."
The United Way, Missoula County, the University of Montana and several other organizations are joining the initiative.
Experts say common citizens can learn to spot the signs of suicide and take action to stop it.
Everyone is urged to attend a summit September 9 at the University of Montana. National, state and community experts will discuss how individuals and groups can coordinate efforts to prevent suicide.