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EDITORIAL: Coming together in support of suicide prevention and mental health

South Bend Tribune - 6/12/2018

June 12--There were two items in the news recently that caught our eye.

One was a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that said Indiana's suicide rate rose nearly 32 percent between 1999 and 2016. The report went on to say that suicide rates rose in every state except one -- Nevada.

It's an alarming statistic that was emphasized last year in another report from the Indiana State Department of Health in which it called suicide "a major preventable public health problem" that crosses "all economic, racial/ethnic, age and social boundaries."

The other item involved funding for mental health services in Indianapolis.

Mental health services for women and girls recently received a $1 million boost from the Women's Fund of Central Indiana. Nearly $300,000 of that money will support an Indianapolis program that offers mental health counseling for marginalized women and girls. An additional $750,000 grant made possible with money donated during a recent appearance by Michelle Obama will go to fund a new mental health initiative.

Those two things got us thinking about mental health, suicide and whether everything possible was being done to aid in suicide prevention and promote mental health.

Can a state where suicide was the second leading cause of death among 15- to 34-year-olds between 2011 and 2015, and where nearly 10 percent of Indiana high school students reported that they attempted suicide in the previous year, say it is doing all it can when it comes suicide prevention and mental health?

We don't think so.

Suicide is a public health crisis that seems to get widespread attention only when the public is shocked by the death of a celebrity, as was the case last week with the deaths of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.

Suicide is much broader issue that impacts every community, including ours, where there were 177 suicides in St. Joseph County between 2011 and 2015.

If we're really going to make an impact with suicide prevention and make sure people have access to adequate mental health services, it's going to take everyone in the community -- residents, business and government leaders at both the state and national levels, and social service agencies, to make those issues are a priority.

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(c)2018 the South Bend Tribune (South Bend, Ind.)

Visit the South Bend Tribune (South Bend, Ind.) at www.southbendtribune.com

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