VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - Of the many students who walk the halls of Indiana's high schools, one in five have seriously considered attempting suicide.
That's according to data from The Indiana Youth Institute.
"We definitely are losing students," said Rick Stevens, Assistant Director of Student Services for the Vigo County School Corporation.
Statistics point to an alarming trend that Vigo County Schools say they are trying to stay ahead of.
Monday night, school board leaders approved the first of three readings for its Suicide Prevention Policy. This comes after lawmakers enacted a statewide policy to promote suicide prevention and awareness, which is effective for all school corporations July 1.
Also known as House Enrolled Act 1430, the new mandate requires all Indiana teachers, grades 5-12, to go through two hours worth of suicide prevention training. The training must be completed every three school years and can be done face-to-face, electronically or by another approved method.
Stevens said they'll also be required to appoint a district supervisor to oversee the training, as well as a point person in each school.
"We want the community to be aware, we want parents to be aware that this is really a real situation," Stevens said.
The state mandate is in addition to what Vigo County Schools have already been doing to provide mental health services and resources to students.
Stevens said within the last three years, they've hired 16 school counselors. They've also hired 4 new ones for the high schools, along with 20 behavioral interventionists. That's because the resource supply meets a growing demand.
"This year, we're almost pressing 250 referrals for suicide ideation," said Stevens.
The referrals do not stop at the school corporation.
The Hamilton Center in Terre Haute is one of the agencies that's part of the protocol plan for Vigo County Schools.
News 10 spoke with leaders at The Hamilton Center to find out more about the alarming trend that they're seeing, plus how they play a vital role to combat it.
Part two of this story will air on Wednesday night on News 10.