It’s been a tough year for everyone. We have been forced to live with the unimaginable amid the COVID-19 pandemic and learned how to help one another in ways we never thought possible. As students return to classrooms across the state, we all need to do our part to ensure the stability of their mental health.
Suicide statistics are staggering: It was the 10th-leading cause of death overall in the United States in 2019, claiming the lives of more than 47,500 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But statistics related to young people are the most sobering. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Hoosiers 15-34.
The state’s suicide rate has been higher than the national average since 1999, according to the Indiana Center for Prevention of Youth Abuse and Suicide.
Some of the leading risks among those contemplating suicide are feelings of hopelessness, major physical illnesses, job or financial loss, a lack of social support and a sense of isolation, the CDC states on its website. All of these are especially concerning given the pandemic, the financial hardship it has created and the lack of in-school learning many students dealt with during the past year.
And for young people, adding to those risk factors are bullying; changes in families, such as divorce or moving; and changes in friendships. In addition, the Trevor Project — a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services — estimates that at least one LGBTQ youth 13-24 attempts to take their life in the U.S. every 45 seconds.
In recognition of September being National Suicide Prevention Month, we call on educators and parents to focus on the mental state of the youth they are in contact with each day.
There are several programs available to help adults discuss suicide prevention with teens via the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website, https://afsp.org. It works to connect individuals to mental health services before crises emerge.
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center also offers online training and programs, such as learning labs, online courses and webinars on everything from how to identify and prioritize prevention to treating suicidal patients during the COVID pandemic. More information can be found online at https://www.sprc.org.
Now more than ever, we need to look out for our youth and stop losing young Hoosiers to suicide.