Suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in Indiana from 2003-2007, and the 2nd leading cause of death for those Hoosiers between 15 and 34 years of age. According to the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 3.6 percent of Indiana students in grades 9-12 reported making a suicide attempt during the past 12 months that required treatment by a doctor or nurse.
“Suicide is devastating to families, and a serious public health issue. But most suicides are preventable,” said Joan Duwve, M.D., medical director for injury prevention at the Indiana State Department of Health. “Suicide occurs across all economic, racial/ethnic, age, and social boundaries. It is important for all Hoosier families to be able to recognize risk factors and possible warning signs.”
Individuals are encouraged to seek help as soon as possible by calling a mental health professional or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK if they or someone they know shows any of the following signs:
•Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself;
•Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means;
•Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person;
•Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge;
•Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking;
•Feeling trapped – like there’s no way out;
•Increasing alcohol or drug use;
•Withdrawing from friends, family, and society;
•Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time;
•Experiencing dramatic mood changes;
•Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life.
“It is a common misperception that talking about suicide can lead to an attempt,” commented Gina Eckart, Director of the Division of Mental Health and Addiction. “In fact, by discussing thoughts of suicide openly, a person can access necessary supports to assist them with their crisis. That is why awareness events like those occurring throughout the state are so important.”
Dr. Duwve says state officials are working to raise awareness and prevent suicides. Earlier in 2010, the state hosted a symposium to address suicide prevention, during which attendees were provided data on suicide in Indiana and state officials gathered information on suicide prevention programs and resources across the state.
The Indiana State Department of Health and the Family and Social Services Administration have formed the Suicide Prevention Advisory Committee to draft a state Suicide Prevention Plan and to develop guidelines on suicide prevention training for teachers. The Committee will begin meeting this fall.
There are eight communities in Indiana hosting walks in September and October to promote the prevention of suicide. October 23, 2010 Fort Wayne will host its suicide prevention walk.
For more information visit the Indiana Suicide Prevention Coalition website at: www.indianasuicidepreventioncoalition.org.