Columbus got a wake-up call a year ago when two teenagers died around the opening of the new school year, prompting Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. and mental health officials to quickly ramp up suicide-awareness efforts.
While the school district on the average has lost one student to suicide each year, the fact that two occurred so closely together was especially unsettling.
About 400 people attended the first large suicide-awareness program a year ago. Since that time, no additional suicides have been committed among students, which is good news.
However, too often suicides are surrounded in secrecy and not discussed openly. The need to have communitywide dialogue on suicide still exists as the number of suicide threats continues to rise. Data from the Bartholomew County Emergency Operations Center shows that the number of reported suicide contacts (threats, attempts with injury and suicides) has increased every year since 2010, climbing from 387 in 2014 to 405 last year. The 316 contacts reported through August of this year is on pace to exceed last year’s total.
Another important suicide awareness session was conducted Sept. 7 at Columbus North High School. About 100 people attended this valuable session, with parents and friends of students learning what they can do to help people they know who might be at risk for suicide.
The school district’s public efforts represent building blocks for continued programming, including training sessions scheduled locally on Oct. 26 and Dec. 8.
It’s important for more local residents to participate and become part of the solution — and help curb the troubling suicide trends that have been developing. We encourage the community dialogue to continue.