Our kids are going back to school and many of us are thinking about backpacks, school supplies and physicals.
With bus schedules, class schedules and afterschool activities, our kids can easily get stressed about the beginning of a new school year. For some children, especially teens, this stress and anxiety exists at a dangerous level.
In Indiana, suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24 and the fourth leading cause of death for youth ages 5-14. Experts and teens list several reasons for the increase, including insufficient mental health screening, poor access to mental health services and resistance to seeking care. Suicide ideation and attempt rates are also found to be higher during the school year than in the summer.
Sadly, Hoosier youth are significantly more likely to consider or attempt suicide than their peers nationally, and Indiana faces significant disparities in youth suicide among vulnerable groups.
1 in 5 Indiana high school students seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. The percentage of students who seriously considered suicide increased from 18 percent in 2005 to 19.8 percent in 2015.
Indiana ranks second out of 34 states in the percentage of students who made a suicide plan and ranks third out of 37 states in the percentage of students who seriously considered attempting suicide.
Among our neighboring states, Indiana has the highest percentage of students who seriously considered attempting suicide and the highest percentage of students who made a suicide plan.
Based on these pressing needs, the Indiana General Assembly has passed youth suicide prevention legislation in the past two sessions. Effective June 30 all teachers and educators for students in grades 5-12 are required to participate in at least two hours of youth suicide awareness and prevention training every three years.
For details about the required training, school responses and effective interventions, go to the Indiana Department of Education’s website.
Tami Silverman is the president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. Send comments to [email protected].