McNamara: Preventing youth suicides

Posted by: Jessica Baker  | Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released results from a survey that showed one out of every five high school students in Indiana has seriously considered committing suicide. To help save young lives, state lawmakers are working on a new piece of legislation that would give educators more tools to address youth suicide.

According to the Indiana Youth Institute, the leading cause of child and young adult deaths in Indiana are accidents, typically motor vehicle accidents, followed by homicide and suicide.

Recently, House Republicans passed a proposal I co-authored that would require certain school employees to participate in at least two hours of evidence-based, inservice youth suicide awareness and prevention training every couple years. Educators interact with students every day, and providing them with training on how to identify students who are contemplating suicide can help save lives. Suicidal thoughts and depression are not always easy to diagnose and spot, especially to the untrained. It is imperative that we are giving school employees all the resources available to protect those going through a difficult time.

In 2014, there were 119 children aged 15 to 24 and nine kids aged 5 to 14 who died from suicide in Indiana. We need to continue making mental health a priority. According to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Hoosier high school students are more likely than their peers nationally to have been treated by a medical professional as a result of a suicide attempt in 2014. We can all join the effort to help those who may be contemplating suicide.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes these symptoms of depression: loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, insomnia, early-morning awakening or oversleeping, restlessness and irritability. To learn more, visit www.adaa.org. If you or a loved one is displaying signs of depression, or having suicidal thoughts, please seek medical attention.

It is our job to protect our kids, and we typically do all we can to keep them out of harm’s way. But too many of Indiana’s youths are struggling with mental health issues, and we should be taking the steps to ensure they get the help they need.

It is important that lawmakers continue to raise awareness about the warning signs of mental illness and youth suicide. If you have any questions or input, contact me at 317-232-9816 or email h76@iga.in.gov.

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State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville) represents portions of Posey and Vanderburgh counties.

A high-resolution photo of McNamara can be downloaded by clicking here.