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INDIANAPOLIS (February 8, 2016) – Each year in the United States, suicide claims over 40,000 lives – more than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. Suicide costs Indiana over $1 billion in combined medical and work lost each year. On Tuesday, February 9, 2016, volunteers from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the largest suicide prevention organization in the United States, will arrive at the state capitol to meet with lawmakers to encourage them to introduce legislation that will help fight suicide.
“Suicide is not just a faceless health issue for our society – it affects real people. We hope that by meeting the real people who have been personally affected by suicide in the state of Indiana, state lawmakers will make suicide prevention a priority – an effort that will save lives,” said Lisa Davis, board chair of the AFSP Indiana Chapter.
Specifically there are four key areas where we know legislation needs to be introduced in Indiana.
Training for health professionals
Health professionals regularly encounter patients who are suicidal. Connecting suicidal individuals with quality health care is a vital component in preventing suicide deaths. However, many health professionals are unprepared to assess, treat, and manage suicidal behavior as this is not a routine part of their training or continuing education. Currently, five states require this training (Washington, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Utah). AFSP advocates are asking Indiana lawmakers to introduce legislation making suicide prevention training mandatory for health professionals.
Prevention on college campuses
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. Colleges and universities must equip all students with the knowledge and tools to better recognize suicide risk and to know where and how to seek help. Lifesaving information, such as how to access crisis intervention hotlines, mental health programs, and suicide prevention resources both on and off campus, should be easily accessible by all college and university students, faculty, and staff.
Training for elementary, middle, and high school educators
In 2011, the Indiana Legislature passed SB 4, which now requires applicants for an initial teaching license to demonstrate successful completion of education and training on the prevention of child suicide and the recognition of signs that a student may be considering suicide. This requirement only applies to NEW teachers, and is only a “one time” requirement. The law does not currently require any refresher or repeat trainings as educators apply for re-licensure. Advocates from AFSP are asking lawmakers to introduce legislation that will mandate that educators receive more than a one-time training at the beginning of their career. Introducing this necessary legislation will ensure educators have the necessary skills and confidence to intervene with youth at risk for suicide.
Comprehensive school policies and procedures
Indiana schools are regularly dealing with suicidal thoughts and behaviors of students, yet very few schools in Indiana have policies in place to address suicide prevention, intervention, or postvention. Advocates from AFSP are meeting with lawmakers to urge them to introduce legislation that would address this policy gap. Eight states currently require these school policies.
On average, one person dies from suicide every nine hours in the state of Indiana. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34 who live in Indiana and is the fourth leading cause of death for people ages 35-54 in Indiana. Over twice as many people die by suicide in Indiana annually than by homicide.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
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