Reversing trend in teen suicides


South Bend Tribune

The statistics are startling.

Nineteen percent of Hoosier students contemplated suicide in the past 12 months. About 11 percent of teens attempted it, according to the Indiana Youth Institute. That’s slightly more than the national average.

Even more alarming is that suicide proved to be the second leading cause of death for Hoosiers ages 15 to 24 in 2014 and 2015.

St. Joseph County had one of the highest rates for suicide across all ages in 2015: a total of 45 suicides compared with 960 for all of Indiana.

Barbara Gulbranson, director of the Suicide Prevention Center, is working hard to change those numbers through programs like the Yellow Ribbon Suicide prevention program and Question, Persuade and Refer, programs that help teachers, parents and students to recognize potential suicide signs and get those people to the right place for help.

Indiana House Rep. Julie Olthoff, R-Crown Point, is sponsoring a bill that would require school employees to attend youth suicide awareness and prevention training. The bill passed the House and now has moved on to the Senate.

Gulbranson has been going regularly into schools in St. Joseph County to talk with kids about suicide and break down the stigma. Students receive a card that, if they contemplate killing themselves, can be given to almost anyone in the school who can find them help.

The statistics serve as a call to action. Recognizing the potential signs that someone may be contemplating suicide is the responsibility of the entire community. Gulbranson described it as the “most preventable form of death.”

A teen mentioning suicide should be taken seriously, not shrugged off. Learn the signs of depression and be prepared to act if you think a friend or family member is in trouble. It will take all of us to reverse this troubling trend.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association.

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