State’s suicide rate among tops in the nation

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By MORGAN BROWN/Montana State News

Montana’s suicide rate has ranked among the top five states for over 30 years, due in part to low socioeconomic conditions that are common in low-income areas such as American Indian Reservations.

In 2009, Montana had the highest suicide rate in the nation at one in every 4,444 people, more than double the national rate of one in every 8,333 people.

Trishena Kills Pretty Enemy, a Montana State University student from the Crow reservation said, “Three years ago, people were just committing suicide all over. My cousin committed suicide, my friend’s 11-year-old daughter committed suicide. My niece in Poppler had two classmates kill themselves.” More

Allegiant flyers help boost airport to the top

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By JORDAN GARCEAU/Montana State News

Allegiant Airline has substantially increased the number of passengers served in Bozeman, helping Bozeman’s airport become the busiest in the state.

According to the Montana Department of Transportation, Bozeman’s Allegiant Airlines increased passengers from 3025 to 30,207 from 2008 to 2013. This jump is notable, considering the growth of the airline in Billings between the same years was only 37,237 to 41,924. Although Billings is considerably larger than Bozeman, Bozeman’s Allegiant passenger count is comparable.

This jump in Allegiant passengers happened simultaneously as Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport began it’s journey to growth. Bozeman currently has the busiest airport in the state.  In servicing 483,132 passengers in 2014, Bozeman surpassed the Logan International Airport of Billings by 63,289 passengers. More

Montana has nation’s worst drivers

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By ARINA BILLIS/Montana State News

Montana has the worst drivers in the nation.

According to CarInsuranceComparison.com, a website that lets people compare features of different automobile insurance companies, Montana is ranked as the worst state for number of drunken driving incidents.

The website annually ranks each state looking at five categories: drunken driving, speeding, careless driving, fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, and failure to obey laws, which includes fatal crashes that involved traffic signals, not wearing seat belts and driving with an invalid license.

The 2014 report notes that Montana’s rank moved up by eight places, tying with South Carolina for first. The state similarly moved up in the “failure to obey” category. More

Local economy leads state in growth

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By WILLIAM NEVILLE/Montana State News

Montana has the 13th fastest growing economy in the nation, according the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana. And 35 percent of the state’s economic growth comes from Gallatin County, with tourism being a strong component.

Out of the $666 million in out-of-state spending, almost half is making its way into the Bozeman area, from the downtown businesses to Yellowstone Park region and the Bridger Bowl and Big Sky Ski Resorts.

Although Bozeman is at the forefront of the state’s economic progression, other Montana cities are also experiencing positive economic growth, according to the bureau. Overall, GDP in Montana expanded by 4.5 percent in 2013. Montana’s largest cities are contributing to the state’s rapid economic growth, however, their drivers are starkly different. More

Diversity on the rise in MSU enrollment

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By BRETT NELSON/Montana State News

Montana State University is becoming more diverse with increasing numbers of international and Hispanic students attending the university. According to MSU’s 2014-2015 Quick Facts, 673 students (4 percent) are international students, and 472 students (3 percent) identify with Hispanic/Latino, both figures have increased two percent since 2005.

“We do actively seek international students … This year our focus is mainly Saudi Arabia and maybe India. International students pay out of state tuition, which is a win for the university, since it is about three times as much as in-state tuition,” said International Programs Specialist Brent Leavell.

Deborah Chiolero, international student and scholar advisor said, “There has been an increase in international students in recent years. We are actively recruiting and send out newsletters; we speak at high schools and we travel abroad and inform international students about programs and accommodations available here at MSU.”  More

Life in Big Sky state healthier, shorter

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By NICOLE SMITH/Montana State News

Following Colorado, Hawaii, California, and Massachusetts, Montana is one of the five states with the lowest obesity rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The national average for obesity in the United States is 34.9 percent, while Montana sits well below that at 24.6 percent.

This may be due to the fact that roughly 80 percent of Montanans claimed to be physically active in 2012, a number that has hovered between 75 and 80 since 2011, according to Americas Health Rankings.

Montanans may be more likely to be physically active because of the wide variety of physical activities available in the state – fishing, skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, horseback riding and rock climbing are just the beginning of a long list of outdoor or physical activities found around the Treasure State. More

Prescription drugs are killing Montanans

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By LAUREN SHUN/Montana State News

Drug overdose mortality rates in Montana have doubled since 1999, giving Montana the 21st highest drug overdose mortality rate in the nation, according to the 2013 drug abuse data from HealthyAmericans.org.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said, “This deadly abuse happens in our own homes, sometimes with our own medication. Yet, most of us don’t even know prescription drug abuse is happening — until it’s too late. This is Montana’s invisible epidemic.”

Drug abuse deaths contribute to more than 300 deaths in Montana annually, according to The Montana Department of Justice, making prescription drugs 15 times more deadly than heroin, meth and cocaine combined.  More

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