INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—A new study released overnight sheds a tragic light on Indiana’s children.
According to the Indiana Youth Institute (IYI) Databook, Indiana sees higher-than average suicide, teen dating violence and poverty rates amongst its youth.
About 1 in 5 high schoolers thought about suicide
About 1 in 5 high schoolers made a suicide plan
About 1 in 10 high schoolers attempted suicide
About 1 in 25 high schoolers attempted suicide and needed medical attention
The trend for youth suicide is on the increase. The Indiana Youth Institute has been tracking the data for years and found that in 2014 and 2015 suicide was the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24.
“Sadly Indiana is higher in all those categories than the national average, and those are increasingly slightly over prior years,” said Tami Silverman, President & CEO of IYI.
The leading cause of suicide is undiagnosed depression, Silverman says teen suicide is preventable if parents can identify the signs early and get the child into medical care.
“If you are seeing a teen that is sliding into that depressive area, we can intervene quickly and take some action,” Silverman added.
Some signs include: withdrawn behavior, or overly aggressive behavior, the straying from old habits or behavior may also be a sign.
Other warning signs Silverman says are demoralized expressions like “I don’t have any reason to go on” or “I just don’t know what the point is anymore.” Those expressions plus withdrawal, over aggression and sudden changes in behavior can indicate a child or teen may be experiencing suicidal thoughts.
The dominance of social media can oftentimes add to teen depression. Silverman said teens feel compelled to “keep up” with their peers socially when they look at social media feeds.
“That’s just a snippet—that’s not the whole reality,” Silverman explained, “But if that’s what kids see, that can cause them to reevaluate their lives in a way that’s not healthy or productive for them.”
Teen Dating Violence:
A survey of teens dating in Hoosier high schools found that one in ten reported being physically hurt on purpose by a dating partner. That’s higher than the national rate of 9.6-percent.
Indiana ranked third highest for sexual dating violence among teens in one national study which pulled data from more than 30 states.
Similarly, one in ten high schoolers here in Indiana reported they had been forced to have sex by a significant other, even though they didn’t want to.
“The difference becomes when there’s a power and control issue and that’s when one parties says, I’m going to physically make you do what I want you to do,” said Silverman.
Silverman says that because teens are so malleable they can be taught and trained to identify and resist violent advances, or at least report them. Problems may arise, however, if a child grows up in a home where the example for a “normal” relationship is abnormal or potentially violent.
Indiana’s youth poverty rate does not show the same improvement as the overall economy. One in five Hoosier children lives in poverty.
Surveys show that children in single-mother houses are disproportionately impoverished. According to IYI, more than half of children in single-mother homes live in poverty, which is more than twice as many as in single-father families.
Silverman says household income is often a determinant of access to medical care, both preventative and treatment, adequate food and housing.
Poverty is also shown to increase stress among children.
“When they’re in a family that’s struggling sometimes they think that it’s their fault, and they think about what they could’ve done or should’ve done different,” Silverman explained, “so that puts a lot of stress on the kids inadvertently.”
The Indiana Youth Institute KIDS COUNT in Indiana Data Book also surveyed abuse and neglect cases in Indiana in 2016. Finding that 52-percent of children removed by DCS last year were taken away due to parental substance abuse issues; continuing a steady increase from the last few years.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, you can call the teen suicide hotline at 1-800-suicide. Or if you or someone you know is dealing with dating violence call the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence at 1-800-332-7385. It is a toll-free 24 hour hotline.