Columbus has used public discussions and events in recent years to address growing concerns about suicide, which has been a good and appreciated step in dealing with a serious issue.
The first public discussion was conducted in 2015 after two Columbus East High School students died within a week just before the start of the school year. The second was conducted last year in September.
A high school student for his senior project even produced in November a musical drama that addressed the issue of suicide.
Now, a grant is helping local efforts take a step forward.
Heritage Fund – The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County has provided a $10,350 grant to Ivy Tech Community College’s Columbus campus to implement a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program, called Hope Squad, at both Ivy Tech and IUPUC.
The purpose of the program is to train students how to provide outreach to their peers who are at risk for suicide and get them the proper help.
Hope Squad is taught as a curriculum so students learn about peer support, gain a greater understanding of mental health and suicide, and learn how to train fellow students.
Research shows that young people who are contemplating suicide tend to talk to peers rather than with adults, but that as few as 25 percent of peer confidants then inform adults. That’s unfortunate, because those who need help need assistance by any means necessary.
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, suicide is:
- The second-leading cause of death for those people age 15 to 34 in Indiana
- The third-leading cause of death among people age 10-14
The Hope Squad program is a promising step in local suicide prevention efforts. Peers who can recognize warning signs of suicide in others increase the odds that students needing help will get it.
The ability to train other students about warning signs and proper support could have a ripple effect of helping more students who are considering ending their lives.
If this program saves even one life, it will have proven its worth.