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Sunday, January 24, 2021
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Legislation aimed to help prevent suicide and human trafficking passes Senate Committee

By Times Staff
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Monday morning, and coincidentally on National Human Trafficking
Awareness Day, Senate Bill 19, posed to help combat suicide and human
trafficking for middle and high school-aged students, passed the
Indiana Senate Family and Children’s Services committee with a 7-2
vote.

The bill, co-authored by Sen. Michael Crider and Sen. Jon Ford, and
actively supported by Harsha Behavioral Center of Terre Haute,
requires public schools that issue a student identification card to
students in grades 6-12 to include a local, state or national suicide
prevention hotline telephone number; and human trafficking hotline
telephone number. Each of these resources must be available to provide
support to callers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for adolescents in our
country, and unfortunately, Indiana has seen this at a rate higher
than the national average,” stated Ford. "Having seen this tragic loss
of life in my own community, I believe it's important we do everything
we can to help young Hoosiers know there is always someone ready to
listen and help them through whatever it is they're going through.”

Currently, the bill states the legislation will go into effect on July
1. Schools are welcome to either print the information on the student
identification cards directly or print stickers that will be affixed
to the identification cards.

"Senate Bill 19 is particularly important because COVID-19 has made
the normal stresses students face dramatically worse," Crider said.
"I'm hopeful that having these important numbers close by will give
those in crisis the connection to resources they need."

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, each year, one
in six youth between the age of 6 to 17 experience a mental health
disorder. Nationally, suicide is the second leading cause of death
among individuals 10 to 34 and Indiana ranks third out of 36 states in
the percentage of students who have seriously considered suicide,
according to Indiana Youth Institute.

“This legislation has been crafted at a time of great urgency. It will
grant an essential resource to our state’s children,” stated Roopam
Harshawat, CEO of Harsha Behavioral Center. “This is a time of
heightened anxiety, stressors and depression. We all need to rally
behind this legislation to equip our youth with added information that
is easily accessible for suicide prevention.”

The bill will be on the Senate second reading calendar for a final
vote before moving to the House.


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