LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Peer pressure, bullying, and everyday stress can cause some teens to have suicidal thoughts. According to the Indiana Suicide Prevention Coalition, Indiana's suicide rate has been higher than the national average for more than a decade.
Nearly one in 10 Hoosier students attempted suicide one or more times in 2009 according to the Indiana Youth Institute.
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Shari Stembel said what might even be more shocking is how many teens contemplate hurting themselves.
"Twenty to 30 percent of all teenagers have a serious consideration of suicide at some point," Stembel said.
According to Mental Health America, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds nationwide. It's the sixth leading cause of death for five to 14 year olds.
Benton County is one place that knows the impact of suicide all too well.
"For a while, three or four years ago Benton County was the No. 1 in suicide, had the highest suicide rate in Indiana which is not a statistic we were very proud of," Stembel said.
"I had a former player when I was coaching commit suicide, so I mean it's one of those when it impacts you and it impacts the entire community," Benton Community Schools Superintendent Destin Haas said.
In recent years Benton County has made an effort to educate everyone in the community about suicide. One way is through the Out of the Darkness walk. The walk originated after a Benton County fifth grader took his own life. The walk not only raises awareness, but helps fund resources so suicide awareness can be taught in schools.
"I think that's the key," Haas said about educating teens on the warning signs of suicide. "I mean obviously I would think I would be naive by saying that we're going to prevent suicide but I think the better education we can get out there, the more resources. Things that are available for our students or our community members."
"Suicide is a very preventable situation most of the time if people are just alert and aware and know what to look for, what signs to look for, and some ways of intervening appropriately," Stembel said.
Stembel has been helping parents better understand the warning signs of suicide.
"We look for children who are withdrawn, we look for changes in mood, depression, hopelessness, children or adolescents who see that there's no way out, that the situation seems very desperate and there aren't alternatives for solutions," Stembel said. "Some children certainly have just a biological predisposition to depression which puts them at higher risk, but I think also peer pressure. I think kids are certainly dealing with a lot more interpersonal issues, especially with out internet social media."
While it's impossible to prevent every suicide Stembel said better education and awareness about the topic could save a life.
For warning signs of suicide and what you can do if you think your son or daughter is contemplating hurting themselves click on the following links for more information:
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