Olthoff: Preventing suicide deaths

Posted by: Jessica Bruder  | Thursday, June 14, 2018

It seems like we see a tragic story in the national news every week about someone who has taken their own life. Suicide can be a difficult topic to discuss, but these stories shed light on a serious problem that has no boundaries.

We hope that no one is ever in a situation where they feel that suicide is the only option, but many often are. That is why it is critical we work together to spread awareness about the resources and help available. Suicide prevention is a topic I am very passionate about, and I have worked hard over the last few years to address this issue from the state level.

In Indiana, suicide has been the second-leading cause of death for Hoosier youth since 2009, and the suicide rate among 10-24 year olds rose over 20 percent from 2009 to 2015. For this reason, it is critical we provide schools and universities with training and resources to help educators and administrators recognize the signs of suicidal behavior and help save young Hoosiers’ lives.

That is why I sponsored a new law to ensure school teachers and administrators receive suicide prevention and awareness training every three years – an initiative that teachers supported. Schools will implement policies on how students and staff can better recognize suicidal behaviors and actions. Higher education institutions will also adopt policies and disseminate information and additional resources, like hotline phone numbers.

The law also tasks the Division of Mental Health and Addiction with the responsibility of developing a research-based training program for health care providers and emergency responders on suicide assessment, treatment and management. The program must also be recommended by the Indiana Suicide Prevention Network Advisory Council. This council is composed of members from state agencies and community organizations whose focus is on providing mental health services and suicide prevention efforts, making them better suited to recommend suicide programming to Hoosiers.

Our world is not always an easy place and many are struggling with mental illness, so continuing the discussion of suicide prevention and awareness is critical. Anything we can do to lower these totals means saving lives. I will continue to do all that I can to raise awareness and strengthen our laws surrounding this issue. If you have any ideas or suggestions for legislation, please call me at 317-232-9600 or email me at h19@iga.in.gov.

If you or someone you know are contemplating suicide, please ask for help and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For more resources and information on suicide prevention, visit www.in.gov/issp.

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State Rep. Julie Olthoff represents House District 19,
which includes a portions of Lake and Porter counties.

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