The Christian Science Monitor

In Mountain West, how frontier ethos magnifies problem of suicide

Matt Kuntz stood on a chair in his attic with one end of a rope around his neck. It was 2000, and Mr. Kuntz, then 22, found his nascent Army career ruined after he shredded ankle ligaments during a training exercise. The West Point graduate had dreamed of a life in uniform since childhood. The abrupt demise of his military ambitions pushed him toward the void.

“My sense of being was broken,” says Kuntz, a native of Helena, Mont., who now serves as executive director of the state’s chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). He stopped himself from stepping off the chair only when he realized he had yet to pay his monthly rent. He felt obligated to his landlords for the burden his death would impose, so he walked outside and slipped a check in a nearby mailbox.

On his way back, he happened to hear his neighbor crying, and when Kuntz approached and

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