Senator introduces suicide prevention campaign for teens, young adults

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By Tanae Howard

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 26, 2014)-- State Senator Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) along with Heartland Intervention founder Scott Watson are teaming up for a public awareness campaign to fight the growing number of teen and young adult suicides in Indiana.

The five point plan will assist young Hoosiers in recognized when they need help and provide resources. The plan comes after several young people committed suicide in our state in the past few weeks.

"As a dad and feeling the grief that all these individuals are feeling it was something I had to speak out on because I know we had tools," said Sen. Merrit.

The following five approaches will be utilized in the new campaign:

  • Call 2-1-1: For anyone feeling down, hopeless or having suicidal thoughts, the United Way provides a number to call for help.  The 2-1-1 hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. All calls are free and confidential.
  • Mentoring programs: At-risk youth should be connected with the wide variety of youth mentoring programs available throughout the state of Indiana.
  • Teacher training: All K-12 teachers should be trained to recognize the signs of a depressed or suicidal student.
  • College Residence Staff Training: All resident hall administrators and student leaders, including those involved in fraternity and sorority life, should be required to take a short training course to recognize signs of depressed or suicidal students.
  • Access to Counseling: Every student should have access to a school counselor. To prevent any monetary excuses, the first session should be offered free of charge.

Tammy Lundy's daughter Nicole committed suicide when she was 20-years-old. She recognized the change in her daughter and says knowing the warning signs is key when trying to help people suffering from depression. She's thankful lawmakers are taking a stand against the growing issue.

"It makes me sad in the reasoning that it's still happening but it makes me happy that its getting the attention that it needs to have happen because its an epidemic right now and it needs to be addressed," said Lundy.

She decided to get involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to help in her own healing process and help other families. She says that tool provided her family with the knowledge to get beyond their time of grief. Tammy is now a chairman for the Out of Darkness walk.

For more on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, click here.

Senator Merritt says the next step is to get his five point plan distributed to K-12 schools and colleges.

Indiana ranks second in the nation for suicide attempts among high school students.