Waynedale Political Commentaries


Legislature to examine common causes, best prevention methods

A person’s teenage years are labeled many ways – awkward, challenging and formative. But what they should never be called are “the final years.”
Sadly, some Hoosier teenagers are, with their suicidal actions, writing the ending to their life’s story  when it should be just beginning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide was the second leading cause of death for Hoosiers ages 15-24 and 25-34 in 2007, the latest year figures were available. Here in Allen County, the Indiana Department of Health reported 38 suicides in 2007 – fourth highest in the state, behind only Marion, Lake and Vanderburgh counties.
These statistics also reveal that Allen County had more suicides (38) than homicides (26) in 2007.
That’s why in this year’s session of the Indiana General Assembly, I supported Senate Enrolled Act 226, which tasks the Health Finance Commission to study teen suicide, including the common causes and best prevention methods.
During the 2010 legislative interim period, this 23-member bipartisan commission will seek to create an awareness about the issue and find ways to reduce teen suicide rates.
Over one million people commit suicide every year, making it the tenth-leading cause of death worldwide. The CDC reports suicide is the 11th leading cause of death for all Americans. Annually, more than 33,000 people ages 10 years and older take their own lives. In addition, more than 385,000 people 10 years and older are treated in emergency departments for non-fatal self-harm injuries every year.
Until recently, national suicide rates had dropped significantly. According to the (CDC), suicide rates for 10-to-24-year-olds had declined more than 28 percent from 1990 to 2003. Progress had been made, thanks to a greater awareness by people looking out and helping out when they saw teens struggling with issues.
But now the rates have risen again. The CDC recently reported the largest single-year increase in 15 years during 2003-2004 – a jump of 8 percent in those 10-to-24-year-olds committing suicide. Researchers were hopeful this spike in suicides would prove to be an anomaly. Unfortunately, the higher numbers seem to have persisted, according to the most recent data available – especially for Hoosiers. According to the Indiana Suicide Prevention Coalition, Indiana’s suicide rate has been higher than the national average since 1999. The Indiana Health Department reported 19 of Indiana’s 92 counties – one-fifth of the entire state – had double-digit suicide numbers in 2007.
So the Health Finance Commission will have some important work ahead. I hope we can build on progress made in the last decade. We all can play a role in preventing these tragedies. A website for the CDC lists the following signs to look for in teens contemplating suicide:
•Talking or joking about committing suicide;
•Saying things like, “I’d be better off dead,” “I wish I could disappear forever,” or “There’s no way out;”
•Speaking positively about death or romanticizing dying (“If I died, people might love me more”);
•Writing stories and poems about death, dying or suicide;
•Engaging in reckless behavior or having a lot of accidents resulting in injury;
•Giving away prized possessions;
•Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for good; and
•Seeking out weapons, pills or other ways to kill themselves.
Here are some suggestions from mental health experts on how to help a teenager or young adult who is threatening or contemplating suicide: be direct; talk matter-of-factly and openly about suicide; do not keep their secret – notify family and seek medical help immediately; take action – remove means, such as stockpiled drugs or guns; be willing to listen; don’t lecture, get involved, be available; get help from people or agencies specializing in crisis and suicide prevention. Residents in Allen County may call their Mental Health Association office at 260-422-6441 to seek help or advice from mental health professionals.
If you suspect a teenager in your life is suffering from depression, take action immediately. Depression is very damaging when left untreated, so don’t wait and hope that the symptoms will go away. Even if you’re unsure depression is the issue, the troublesome behaviors and emotions you may be seeing in your teenager could be signs of serious problems. Whether or not that problem turns out to be depression, it still needs to be addressed – and the sooner the better.
Please contact me at State Sen. David Long, Indiana Senate, 200 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204 or call 1-800-382-9467 or send e-mail to senator.long@iga.in.gov

David Long - IN Dist. 16 Senator

David is a former Republican member of the Indiana State Senate representing the 16th district which encompasses Waynedale. He served as the President Pro Tempore of the Indiana State Senate. David writes the "Straight From The Senate" column for the newspaper. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer