Our Mission & Vision
Safer Communities Montana (SCM) advocates for suicide prevention in Lewis and Clark, Broadwater and Jefferson Counties through collaboration with the firearm and pharmaceutical communities to reduce means access by people at-risk. SCM does so by providing appropriate suicide prevention tools and training to pharmacies, firearm-related businesses, health providers, and community members.
We strive to create a community that is more aware, educated, and understanding of how to protect an at-risk customer, patient or loved one from accessing lethal means to attempt suicide.
The project now known as Safer Communities Montana started in 2018 through the Helena Mayor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families, the Local Advisory Council on Behavioral Health and the Lewis and Clark Suicide Prevention Coalition.
Rather than coming at the problem from just a public health perspective, SCM’s core team brought firearm dealers, gun range operators, and pharmacists to the table to find solutions together. SCM also includes local law enforcement, hospital personnel, suicide prevention experts, mental health professionals, criminal justice staff, and firearm safety advocates.
While unique to Montana, SCM wouldn’t be possible without the influence, input, and support of similar models across the country, especially Safer Homes, Suicide Aware in Washington, and the New Hampshire Gun Shop Project. Both models emphasize collaboration between a diverse group of participants with a broad range of views on firearm ownership and prescription medications. SCM is essentially a blending of the two projects but localized to meet the needs of Montanans.
Additionally, the program was informed by best practices and years of research on lethal means in the U.S., including the Means Matter study from T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health, the Montana Suicide Mortality Review Team Report, the 2020 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, and county data from the Lewis and Clark County Coroner’s Office.
Our goals are to empower firearm businesses and pharmacies to slow down sales or medication dispensation when they recognize that a client may be at risk of suicide, to provide gun locks and drug deactivation systems to the community and various providers, and to give community members the education and information they need to save lives. That means locking up firearms and medication when not in use, keeping ammunition locked and separate from guns and, if someone in your home is struggling, asking if a friend or family member outside of the home can hold on to these items until they feel better.