Teen Suicide — Indiana Rates

What follows is from a presentation by Dr. Thomas W. McAllister, IU School of Medicine, to the Commission on Improving the Status of Children on September 17, 2014.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death in Indiana among 15-34 year olds, and the eleventh leading cause of death in Indiana overall.  “Suicide deaths consistently outnumber homicide deaths in Indiana.”  Nationally, the rate of serious suicide attempts is 1.9%, but the rate is 3.9% in Indiana.

The children in the juvenile court system are certainly at risk.  “50% of children and youth in child welfare have mental disorders.  67-70% of youth in the JJ system have a mental health disorder.”  See Findyouthinfo.gov  “[About] 90% [of adolescents who commit suicide] have a psychiatric disorder” and “only about half (55%) received treatment for the disorder prior to suicidal onset.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Controls, the leading risk factors for youth suicide include: depression, substance abuse, stressful life events, trauma, environment, genetics and family history, prior attempts, incarceration, and easy access to lethal methods.

In 2009, NAMI Ratings of State Mental Health Systems gave Indiana “D” ratings in all areas: health promotion and measurement, financing and core treatment/recovery services, consumer and family empowerment, and community inclusion and integration.  In a 2007 study, Indiana was 41st lowest in the nation in number of psychiatrists to treat those in need.  See Ranking America’s Mental Health: An Analysis of Depression Across the States.

Dr. McAllister noted that the teen suicide issue is a “[c]omplex multi-factorial problem.  There is no single solution.”  But, he noted several approaches that are being tried or suggested.  See pages 119-130 of the presentation.

The topic was also discussed by two task force members during the Substance Abuse and Child Safety Task Force meeting on November 12, 2014.  Suzanne Clifford from the Community Health Network noted that the Zero Suicides for Indiana Youth Grant had been approved.  Mindi Goodpaster from the Marion County Commission on Youth also noted upcoming work to prevent teen suicide.  Minutes from that meeting should be forthcoming.

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