New suicide prevention training requirements for teachers officially go into effect July 1 as one piece of a statewide plan to increase suicide awareness and prevention.
To get a license in Indiana, teachers first need to have suicide prevention training, but lawmakers are expanding those efforts by requiring the training every three years for in-service educators at schools with students in fifth grade or above. That requirement includes superintendents, librarians, school principals, and any other employees the school thinks should have the training.
Chris Drapeau is an education professor at Valparaiso University and chairs the education subcommittee with the state's Suicide Prevention Network Advisory Council. He says it's important for more than just one set of people to know the warning signs of suicide.
"It's an opportunity to strengthen the community and make it a safer community because we're all on the same page in trying to instill hope in the lives of our students," he says.
Legislation from 2017 also required schools to implement a suicide prevention and awareness policy last school year, and this year's update means the state can approve more types of suicide prevention training programs.
Three programs have been approved by the state to meet the new training requirements so far. More than 100 school resource officers and system of care coordinators received training to offer one of those programs, called Question Persuade and Refer or QPR, in the past six months.
But the legislation reaches beyond just education; it outlines training requirements for emergency medical personnel as well.
Indiana's Suicide Prevention Coordinator Jason Murrey says it all ties into the state's development of suicide prevention strategies for local groups to build on.
"The idea is that every community, or multiple communities, even businesses or even an individual can build a suicide prevention plan based off of this framework," Murrey says.
The state's plan focuses largely on pillars from the Zero Suicide program, and Murrey says the official framework will be available online early next month.
A recent report says suicide across the U.S. has increased, in some states by more than 30 percent since 1999. In 2015, suicide was among the leading causes of death for Hoosiers between the ages of 10 and 24.
If you or someone you know has ongoing thoughts of death or suicide, or if a suicide attempt has been made, contact a doctor or go to a hospital emergency room immediately or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).