INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Erasing the stigma. Talking about a subject we don’t often talk about.
Those were reasons behind a suicide awareness and prevention forum held in Lawrence Monday evening.
It was put on by the MSD of Lawrence Township and Community Health Network-Behavioral Health. Their major goal for the evening? Let’s start talking about suicide.
A number of young, high school students in central Indiana have died by suicide recently. Experts say it spans socioeconomic class, race and age.
Dr. Marlon Rollins was on the panel Monday evening. He spends his days helping others, as the Operations Director of Behavioral Health Services, for Community Health Network.
He says a year ago, it all hit home.
“I myself lost my sister to suicide just last year,” Rollins said.
He says his sister, Amber Rose, died on New Year’s Eve, 2013. Dr. Rollins says the loss connected him in a deeper way to his purpose: to save lives.
He feels the most important thing: is to start the conversation.
“The main thing is to listen. Pay attention and know you can do something. Don’t be afraid to have that conversation,” he said. “More than anything, I think that’s what you have to do, have that conversation with your loved one.”
And when it comes to our youth, he said, “We really have to empower our youth to have that difficult conversation about their lives. Don’t wait until it’s too late.”
Community Health Network cited a recent youth risk behavior survey, that said 11 percent of Indiana High School students said they attempted suicide. That was the second highest of the 43 states surveyed.
The survey said 19 percent considered it.
It was a year ago, when a student at Lawrence Central High School died by suicide.
Lawrence Central principal Rocky Valadez said they work to give teachers the tools to help.
“We try to be very proactive with our teachers,” said Valadez, explaining they try to give teachers the tools to feel prepared to interact immediately with someone needing help, to make a difference, and to know which other resources would be needed at that time.
Experts say many times, youth don’t go to mental health professionals if they’re considering suicide.
That’s a reason one mom says, she’s hoping kids understand they need to speak up, if they hear anything.
Her daughter told a friend she was considering suicide, and that friend told a counselor who got help.
“We need to get to our kids and help them understand the importance of getting help when they hear people talking,” she explained.
“We need to be very proactive in asking very direct questions to help our kids. It’s not enough.. to not. We’ve could’ve lost Sarah,” she said.
Experts said one factor that increases suicide risk is having a peer or close friend die by suicide, or having a family history.