How One State Attempts to Reduce Staggering Suicide Rate

In the frontier state of Montana, where kids are taught from a young age to “cowboy up,” suicide has a stranglehold on its people. Residents, many of whom live in isolation, are killing themselves at a rate faster than almost any other place in the nation. Mental health professionals and government officials are scrambling to find a way to halt what has been deemed a crisis.
For nearly four decades, Montana has ranked in the top five states for having the highest rate of suicide, often placing at No. 1. In Big Sky Country, residents young and old alike kill themselves at nearly twice the national average.

For the rest of the story, click here: Rural Health Quarterly

A Father’s Hearing Loss Leads to Isolation, Loneliness

For my father’s 85th birthday last year, I wanted to surprise him with a phone call. He rarely speaks on the phone because of his hearing loss, but I had convinced myself that his birthday would be different.

I had planned this for weeks. I would call him at exactly 11:45 a.m. I knew he would be nestled in his favorite easy chair waiting for the noon news, a mere arm’s length from my parents’ telephone in Yankton, S.D.

My heart was pounding as I heard their phone ringing. One ring. Two rings.

My mom answered. “Is Dad there?” I asked.

For the rest of the story, click here: Health Central


Is Climate Change Real? Ask This Alaskan Village

The idea that climate change is a political issue or a matter of debate makes no sense, said Thomas Richter, pastor of Shishmaref Lutheran, the only congregation in the Alaskan village.

“This is not a question that my people struggle with,” Richter said. “We are too busy wondering how we can eat, what we can do with no sea ice, and what will be the future of our way of life. There is nothing political about our homes collapsing into the ocean or the thinness of the sea ice, whose thickness we depend on for food and protection from the storms. There’s just suffering.”

The island, located north of the Bering Strait, is about a quarter-mile wide and 2 1/2 miles long. It’s being gobbled up by flooding and erosion attributed to climate change.

For the rest of the story, click here: Living Lutheran

Diabetes and the Toll it Can Take On Your Feet

Allen Croat said if he had only purchased the proper shoes when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 17 years ago, he might have been spared having two toes amputated.

Ten years ago, Croat, 63, had the big toe on his right foot amputated. In December 2016, Croat had the second toe on his right foot severed. He relies on a cane to walk and custom inserts to protect his gnarled feet.

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How ELCA Churches Reach Out to Deaf Parishioners

As a child, Angela Koterwski would recite her bedtime prayers by mimicking her mother. It was the only time she would pray. While she shadowed her mother’s gestures, the little girl didn’t fully comprehend what she was saying, or why.

She was the only deaf member of her family.

“It was the thing to do,” Koterwski said. “My parents took me to church, but I didn’t get it. I didn’t know God. I didn’t even have a general idea.”

It wasn’t until 2001 when Koterwski and her husband, Mark, who is also deaf, began their lifelong quest to know God. Both were in their 30s. They began attending Peace Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, S.D., which has four interpreters to minister to the deaf community and also has a deaf Bible study.

For the rest of the story, click here: Living Lutheran