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Indiana bill aims to put suicide prevention lifeline number on student IDs

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INDIANA (WPTA21) - Indiana State Representative Chris Judy authored a bill he hopes will pass this legislative session.

It’s simple in concept, but he is optimistic, it will help make a big difference, in reducing the state’s teen suicide rate.

If passed into law, HB 1565 would require that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline be printed on school ID’s in Indiana.

“It’s a real issue. We don’t always hear about those instances, " Judy told us, "but it’s something I think could be a positive effect again, for those students and kids that find themselves in a situation where they can use this number to call.”

“In Indiana specifically, suicide in young people, anyone between ages 10 and 18-years-old, is the second leading cause of death,” Chloe Cooper explained, “which is really scary.”

Cooper is a licensed professional counselor who lives and practices in Illinois.

She’s been advocating for a similar law to be passed there, but hasn’t had luck so far.

Cooper indirectly inspired Judy’s bill.

Through her work on social media, one of Judy’s constituents saw her idea, and asked her permission to present it to the lawmaker.

“The goal with the bill is to help students in school settings to have access to more mental health resources,” she told us, “after hours or school often times, they don’t have contact with their school guidance counselor, social worker, or maybe even outpatient therapist. So, the goal with this is they have a number on their ID card that they can call after hours if they’re having a crisis.”

The topic of suicide hits close to home for Cooper.

Not only does she counsel teens every day, she also lost her father to suicide in 2011.

“I watched how it effected so many people, especially in our community,” Cooper told us, “and I never want to see another family have to lose a loved one in that type of way.”

The counselor hopes Indiana joins states like Wisconsin and California that have already taken the measures outlined in Judy’s proposal.

“This is not only an Indiana issue, but a nationwide issue that needs to be addressed,” she said, “If we got people on board with it and people understood this is happening and its important and now we’re seeing trends of mental health disorders rising with it, the pandemic, that maybe this is the time more than ever it needs to be passed.”

Judy used those existing laws to help draft up his bill.

“I thought it was a great idea to put that number on a school ID for students to access who may be in a vulnerable situation,” he said.

The bills future remains unclear.

Judy says lawmakers are dealing with many challenges due to the pandemic this legislative session.

And with over a thousand proposals waiting to be reviewed, he is asking those now, interested in supporting HB 1565, to reach out to their representative and let them know.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day.

Here’s a link to their website.

The number is 1-800-273-8255.

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Daniel Beals

Daniel Beals is the producer of the ABC21 feature franchise “21Country”. He is constantly on the lookout for ideas that capture the “people, places, things, and history” that makes Northeast Indiana unique. Feel free to reach out: dbeals@wpta21.com.

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