January 28, 2019


Dr. Joy Honea


MSU Billings Professor and Associate Dean receives Fulbright Scholar award

Dr. Joy Honea will conduct research on suicide rates in Finland



University Communications and Marketing, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS— Montana State University Billings Professor of Sociology Dr. Joy Honea has been selected to receive a William J. Fulbright Core Scholar Award funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. As a Fulbright scholar, Honea will travel to Finland to conduct research on suicide rates and prevention strategies at the University of Tampere in Tampere, Finland.


Honea is currently serving as a Professor of Sociology, the Associate Dean of the College of Allied Health Professions, and the Associate Dean of the College of Business at MSU Billings, all while preparing for her travels next year.


Teaching at MSUB for over 15 years, Honea is passionate about her field and sees this as a unique opportunity. She will begin her sabbatical this fall and will move to Finland, along with her family, in January of 2020 to complete her Fulbright Scholar experience. She will spend five months at the University of Tampere studying Finland’s programs in suicide prevention.


The honor of being selected as a Fulbright scholar grant recipient is a highly competitive accomplishment. Honea learned she had been selected in mid-December and is very excited about continuing her research.


Honea has been researching suicide in Montana since 2012 and has focused on youth suicide in the state most recently. She proves well-experienced in suicide prevention efforts, spending her time giving speeches, presentations, and working with MSUB professor Sarah Keller and other colleagues on the award-winning “Let’s Talk” project. This project used theatre to encourage teens and young adults to talk about depression and suicide.


Finland had one of the highest suicide rates in the world in the 1980s, but managed to cut that rate in half within a single decade. Finland now serves as a global model in the implementation of suicide prevention programs. With Montana leading the U.S. in suicide rates, Honea is driven to discover how Finland has accomplished this great feat. Through her Fulbright award, Honea will have the opportunity to research first-hand Finland’s prevention strategies that may be adaptable to Montana.


Montana and Finland have many similarities when it comes to risk factors for suicide, such as long winters, sparse populations, high firearm ownership rates and high alcohol use. She hopes that these similarities will prove Finland’s prevention efforts pertinent to Montana’s current situation.


In addition to looking at suicide prevention strategies and programs, Honea will also focus on how gender relates to suicide rates.


“Finland, like Montana, has a higher rate of suicide among men than women,” Honea said in an interview with the Billings Gazette. “I propose to look at prevention strategies specific to men versus specific to women.”


Dr. Sue Barfield, MSU Billings Educational Theory and Practice Professor Emeritus has been instrumental in Honea’s Fulbright Scholar Experience thus far. Having experience serving as a Fulbright Scholar this past year in Lithuania, Barfield played a major role in assisting Honea in applying for the Fulbright program.


MSU Billings is pleased to honor Honea as another MSUB professor striving to make an impact both here and abroad through the Fulbright Scholarship Program.


For more information, contact MSU Billings professor Joy Honea at 657-2996 or jhonea@msubillings.edu.