Add this to the list of not-so-good stats about Montana.

Montana is at the top of the list for DUI fatalities. We're #2 in the US for our suicide rate, and according to the latest data, we're the worst in the United States for fatalities caused by traumatic brain injuries. Not just a little bit worse than the US, but our death rate from TBIs is more than TWICE the national average.

Read More: Finally, Some Good News About Montanan's Driving Habits

Photo by Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash
Photo by Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash

How can this be?

We can mostly connect the dots on this. It stands to reason that since we're the worst in the US for under-the-influence traffic fatalities, and near the top for suicides, both of those scenarios are likely to include traumatic injuries to the brain.

The study also analyzed the years of potential life lost to traumatic brain injuries to see which states were dying youngest to this. Years of potential life lost are calculated by finding how many years a person was away from a specified age when they died. This study used 65 for this age. The sobering total for Montana is a staggering 8,599 years of potential life lost to TBI, 10% higher than the US average.

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According to the Zinda Law Firm report, Montana’s age-adjusted rate of traumatic brain injury deaths per 100,000 is the highest in America, with a rate of 42.19 deaths per 100,000. This rate is 116% above the national average of 19.54 age-adjusted deaths per 100,000 to TBI. Overall, 489 deaths to TBI were reported in Montana in 2021.


Buckle your seatbelt.

Thankfully, seatbelt use has been on the rise in Montana in recent years, but far too many drivers still refuse to buckle up, for whatever reason. Seatbelts and airbags aren't 100% effective in preventing serious injuries in a bad car accident, but they almost always prevent smashing your skull on a windshield.

Montana doesn't have a mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists, which could contribute to our sky-high TBI fatalities too. As a rider, I get it... helmets can be hot. They might not look cool or fit the image of an outlaw renegade, but it's inarguable that motorcycle helmets save lives.

Montana, Alaska, and Wyoming are the worst states for death by traumatic brain injury AND have the highest suicide rates. If you are feeling hopeless or having thoughts of hurting yourself please talk to someone. Call or text the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline at 988. 

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