Report: Indiana ranks second in teen suicide attempts

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INDIANAPOLIS (February 16, 2015) - The 2015 Kids Count in Indiana data book was released Monday morning and the findings are disturbing.

Data from hundreds of national and state sources are put together to paint a picture of the state of Hoosier children and families.

One of the most shocking findings deals with Hoosier teens and suicide.

PDF | Indiana Youth Institute Report

The reports shows Indiana ranks number one when it comes to teens considering suicide. No other state has more teens thinking of taking their own lives than Indiana does.

The state ranks second when it comes to teens who have attempted suicide.

Lisa Brattain understands the statistic all too well.

"I lost my son to suicide in 2006," said Brattain. "He was a freshman in college. He was diagnosed with depression in high school. He was a football player and a rugby player and had “tough guy syndrome.” So he was being treated for depression, however we weren't educated about the illness enough to help him. So we weren't having the right dialogue, we weren't having the right conversations with our doctor and our doctor couldn't get the right information out of Kurt to effectively treat his illness."

"Every suicide loss leaves in its path a lot of pain and hurt and a lot of misunderstanding because there’s a lot of unanswered questions."

Brattain says some signs were there. She recalls Kurt's mood swings that were over-excessive. His artwork and poetry started to turn a little dark. And she noticed a big difference in sleep patterns.

"The most alarming things for me, for Kurt, was excessive sleeping and of course, with a teenager it’s hard to discern what is too much and what is not enough. But sometimes 15 to 16 hours of sleep, which seems really excessive."

"I understand now the fact that his symptoms were still showing while he was in treatment. The symptoms should have been lessening and they weren't. So all of those things become a perfect storm."

"Stigma is a big factor in seeking help or treatment, because they don’t want to be judged, they don’t want to be labeled, you know. It’s hard to admit that you have a problem, whatever that problem may be"

Lisa is now the Indiana/Ohio Area Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

"There is no shame in asking for help when you need help. I mean, if you’re sick you go to the doctor. If you break a leg you go to the doctor. If you have depression, go to the doctor. Mental health distress is treatable. Suicide is preventable, we just need to be armed with the right information."

"And certainly in hindsight, what I've learned about depression in the last eight years though AFSP and other organizations, I’m pretty certain that he was misdiagnosed, and that’s why treatment wasn't working. But again, we weren't having the right dialogue to come to those conclusions to succeed in treatment. We didn't know that depression was something that we needed to do a lot of homework about. His depression was being treated like he had high blood pressure. Take your medicine every day, if you don’t feel better in 6-8 weeks come back and see me."

"Overall, the annual statistics for suicide, the top ten causes of death in the United States, suicide is number 10. Of the top ten, suicide is the only that continues to increase. So that alone is alarming."

If you're contemplating suicide or think your child might be, there is a 24-hour hotline staffed 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The number is 1-800-273-8225 (TALK).

Here are some other findings:

Poverty and the Economy:

  • Single-mother families are not experiencing the same economic recovery seen in single-father or married couple families.
  • While Indiana incomes are rebounding from the recession, child poverty is not improving at the same rate—22 percent of Hoosier children still live in poverty.


  • Indiana ranks 42nd in the nation for student-to-school counselor ratio. Indiana has one counselor for every 535 students. Additionally, counselors say most of their time is not spent on getting kids ready for college or the workforce.

Family Life:

  • Indiana children are more likely to be abused or neglected by their own parents than any other group of perpetrators.
  • 19 percent of Hoosier children living in poverty have witnessed domestic violence.

Infant Mortality:

  • Indiana infants are 25 percent more likely to die within their first year of life than the national average.
  • One of the leading risk factors for infant mortality is mothers who smoke or use illegal drugs while pregnant. One in six Hoosier mothers admit to smoking while pregnant.

Drug Usage:

  • For the first time on record, the percentage of 12th graders who tried marijuana outpaced the number who tried cigarettes in 2014.
  • Abuse of prescription drugs among teens has increased by more than 95 percent from 2003 to 2014. A dangerous trend contributing to the problem is known as “pharming parties” during which teens trade and share different prescriptions.

School Violence:

  • One in twenty (5.2%) Indiana parents of school-aged children feel their child is never or only sometimes safe at school.
  • In Indiana, 28.2 percent of high school girls and 21.8 percent of boys reported being bullied on school property in 2011.
  • More than a quarter of Indiana’s high school girls (25.5%) and about 1 in 8 boys (12.1%) were electronically bullied in the past year.
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