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Indiana lawmakers to file plan for reducing youth suicide

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana lawmakers plan to file a plan in January aimed at reducing the number of children, teens and young adults who kill themselves.

The effort comes as statistics from the Indiana Department of Public Health show that suicide is the second-leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15 and 23, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported. The leading cause is accidents.

Statistics show 119 Indiana teenagers and young adults and nine children between the ages of five and 14 killed themselves in 2014, the most recent year with complete data available. A federal survey of Indiana high school students done last year shows one in six teens considered suicide and one in eight made a plan for how to do it.

“Compared to other states we’re right in the middle, basically, in terms of our current deaths – which means that we could be doing better,” said Mindi Goodpaster, public policy director at the Marion County Commission on Youth.

Logansport Republican state Sen. Randy Head’s proposal calls for incentives to attract more behavioral health professionals to Indiana and the creation of a state suicide prevention coordinator. Head worked with Goodpaster and the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana to craft the legislation.

Under the legislation, schools would play an enhanced role in suicide prevention. School employees would be required to undergo suicide prevention training and schools would have to develop policies to identify suicidal students and find them help. Licensed medical and behavioral health professionals also would be required to complete suicide prevention training.

“We think that would be a really important step toward preventing a lot of the tragedies that happen on our campuses,” Goodpaster said.