Legislator wants to lower suicide rate without spending funds

Ken Holmlund

By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA – In this tight budget year, a Montana lawmaker is looking for ways to lower the state’s suicide rate without spending any state funds.

Republican Representative Ken Holmlund of Miles City lost a son to suicide in 1989, and now is an advocate for prevention.

He presented his concept of OPENN on the House floor Friday and announced a public meeting on the issue at the Capitol Monday at noon. OPENN stands for “Observe, Protect, Engage, Nurture, and Notify.”

The aim is to get teenagers involved in preventing suicide among themselves.

“This is not a bill, this will not be using state money, this is intended to be totally non-partisan,” Holmlund said.

He also said he sees problems with legislating this sort of thing.

“I think it could be way beyond what a bill could do, because a bill would be a structured situation, and I don’t see that as being the way that this is going to go,” Holmlund said.

He expects people from the governor’s office, the Office of Public Instruction and DPHHS at Monday’s meeting.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.