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New report shows 23% of Indiana girls struggle with suicidal ideation

New report shows 23% of Indiana girls struggle with suicidal ideation

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new report from the Girl Coalition of Indiana highlights a growing trend of an unprecedented mental health crisis for young people in the state.

The report was released in early September, ahead of National Suicide Prevention Week.

The Indiana Youth Survey specifically looked at young people in 7th-12th grades in 2022 and found that 23.3% of girls and 10.8% of boys in the state seriously considered attempting suicide. It also found 17.5% of girls and 8% of boys made a plan to attempt suicide.

The report says regarding mental health and suicide, “girls, especially teenage girls, are more likely to develop mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Girls and boys process emotional stimuli differently and because girls typically undergo puberty and emotional maturity earlier than their male counterparts, they not only are placed at a higher risk of experiencing depression, but at earlier ages. This heightened risk applies to most girls, even without external factors such as bullying and trauma. When factors like bullying and trauma are present in girls’ lives, however, the risk and manifestation of mental health disorders, as many adolescents have yet to fully develop healthy coping methods and regulation while in high school. Trauma is often defined and perceived differently across cultures and fields of study.”

Dr. Danielle Henderson is a clinical psychologist at Indiana University and joined Weekend Daybreak to discuss the issue. 

Henderson said from 2021 to 2022, more than 6,000 Indiana girls in high school not just considered suicide, but began to consider a plan. Henderson says a contributing factor in these cases was bullying. She also stresses the importance of mental health and familial support.

“We have some children and adolescents who are not doing well, who are struggling, who are having some really serious and significant mental health concerns. And so, I think, those of us who are adults and who are around kids and adolescents, being aware of this and trying to be aware that their mental health is important, too. Young people (can go to) parents, but also support at school.

“We do hope parents and caregivers can be kind of like that first place of support, but we’ve all been kids and teenagers and sometimes, there’s some things we can’t talk to our parents about, or we just don’t feel comfortable.

“Hopefully your school has a counselor or there’s a teacher that you’ve developed a great relationship with – a coach, a parent of one of your closest friends, someone in your community, and a support network who you can talk to about how you’re feeling,” Henderson said.

According to the survey girls in Indiana report higher rates of bullying – in particular cyberbullying. 22.1% of girls reported being cyber-bullied, which is nearly double the rate of traditional bullying and triple the rate of cyberbullying amongst boys.

Courtesy: Indiana Youth Survey

Crisis Resources

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