Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

New Law Creates More Suicide Prevention Efforts Statewide

The Indiana Statehouse. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

The Indiana Statehouse. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting)

Indiana lawmakers want schools to develop more robust suicide prevention policies while teachers get training on the issue.

Rep. Julie Olthoff’s (R-Merrilville) bill requires several new steps to create suicide prevention programs. And Olthoff says the first step is creating a statewide suicide prevention coordinator.

“And then they’ll be able to disseminate information and hopefully prevent them,” Olthoff says.

That coordinator will develop a statewide suicide prevention program. That includes training for health care providers and helping schools adjust to a new requirement: beginning next year, all teachers – grades 5-12 – must have suicide prevention training.

Youth issues advocate Mindi Goodpaster says that’s more than just identifying warning signs and addressing students at risk of suicide. It’s also how to help other students in a school environment when a suicide occurs.

“To help them understand what happened – was it my fault, was there something I could have done? – you know, how do we provide a supportive environment?” Goodpaster says.

Goodpaster adds that training can be vital to preventing the so-called “cluster effect,” where one student suicide leads to others.

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