School district working to prevent alarming number of student suicides

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BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY, Ind. - A central Indiana school district is dealing with an unsettling reality, suicides.

“Our young people have lost friends and our families have lost children,” said Larry Perkinson, Student Assistance Coordinator.

Earlier this week, quick thinking students and a school resource officer stepped in to help another student. School officials tell FOX59, a Columbus East student ran for help after she saw another high schooler passed out in the bathroom. It’s believed that teenager overdosed on pill, in an attempted suicide. The school resource officer revived the teen by giving her two rounds of Narcan.

“The truth is our kids have access to whatever an adult has access to,” said Perkinson.

According to Perkinson, after fall break every school in the school district will have at least one dose of Narcan, in case it’s needed to save a student’s life.

“Be prepared. We would like to never use it again but if it’s necessary we’ve got some folks that can do that,” said Perkison.

Every year since 2008, The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation has lost one student to suicide.

“The message is out there that we want you talking about it,” said Perkinson.

Just last school year, two Columbus East students died by suicide within weeks of one another. The school district has been pushing for more awareness programs in the school and community.

“We decided we are going to talk about it and that’s the whole community, not just schools. We are continuing to say what can we do?” said Perkinson.

According to school officials, there was a period last year where counselors were calling as many as 15 families a week to alert them that their child had suicidal signs.

“It’s not a comfortable call, but I’ll tell you what it’s great to have people come in and say ‘what can we do next,’ so the discussion is there, the thought is there,” said Perkinson.

Thanks to students and the SRO being there, at the start of the school day Monday, a teenager now has a new start on life.

“I think their efforts helped save a life, yes,” said Perkinson.

Last year, in Bartholomew County, there were about 400 suicide related 911 calls for help.