Advocates draw attention to teen suicide risks as school year begins

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - As more Hoosier students head back to school this week, advocates are reminding parents about the importance of suicide awareness and prevention.

According to the Indiana Youth Institute, 1 in 5 Indiana high school students has seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year; helping to make suicide the second leading cause of death for Hoosiers ages 15-24.

“If you walk into a classroom and count off one to five, that really hits home as to the number of our teenagers who are struggling right now,” Indiana Youth Institute president and CEO Tami Silverman said.

This year, all teachers and educators for students grades 5-12 are required to have to have at least two hours of youth suicide awareness and prevention training every three years.

A state task force has recently recommended that every school district place more importance on student's mental health. Silverman says while these a positive step, the continued increase of education and awareness for anyone who deals with kids is key to curbing suicide rates.

“Not only is it the teachers and the parents but it’s those after school folks that are running the after school program, it’s the coaches, it’s the youth group leaders at the church, its all of those individuals,” she says.

It’s a sentiment that Matt Davis shares. Davis’ son, Anthony, took his own life November of 2014. He would have been 22 this year.

“What I don’t remember is recognizing the warning signs the way that I recognize them now,” he said.

Now, Davis works for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a like Silverman, spends his time stressing the importance of education and awareness.

“Suicide is literally one of the largest mass killers in our country that is preventable. Anybody who deals with children, should have this suicide prevention training,” he said.

Advocates say one of the best things parents can do is have an open conversation with kids about how they’re feeling and what emotions they’re going through. For more information on the warning signs of suicide, or if you believe someone may need help, you can click here.