In Montana, lack of mental health resources linked to growing gun violence, especially in hospitals

Nearly daily headlines on gun violence, overdoses and crime is hard to ignore, especially as many Montanans recall that the state used to be a much more peaceful place. The articles are widely read as locals can’t seem to look away from the frequent violence that inches closer to people’s backyards.

Many medical professionals have pointed to the severe lack of mental health resources in the state as one driver for the increase in community violence. Although, all are careful to clarify that mental illness does not equate to violence.

Overall, violence is uncommon among people with mental health conditions. But when mental illness goes untreated and is intertwined with other co-occurring issues like substance-use disorder, environmental factors or child abuse and neglect, risk factors for violent behavior can culminate.

Three Montana murder-suicides in a week, two occurring in just over 24 hours, was particularly telling for Community Crisis Center Director Marcee Nearly.

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“Clearly (people) aren’t getting the treatment they need,” Nearly said.

When mental illness is managed with the help of a professional, most people can lead normal lives, but when left untreated, symptoms sometimes come to a head in

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