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Suicide takes silent toll in Indiana, Marion Co.

Posted at 2:50 AM, May 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-11 23:47:19-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- Nationwide, suicide is the second-leading cause of death between the ages of 10-34. Between 2006-2010, more than 4,000 Hoosiers took their own lives.

Even worse for the state: A report issued last year by the Indiana Youth Institute claimed more Indiana teens considered suicide than any other state. While suicide was Indiana's 11th leading cause of death overall during that time period, it ranked second for Hoosiers between the ages of 10-14.
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The problem with suicide is its intensely personal nature. People are often reticent to speak about it – so it goes unspoken about.

Take last year in Marion County, for example. While violent crime grabbed headlines – the year ended as the deadliest ever in the city, with 144 people murdered – an even bigger death toll mounted. In 2015 alone, 162 people took their lives in Marion County – more than 12 percent more than were victims of murder, even in the city's deadliest year on record.

Nationally, and in Indiana, suicide disproportionately affects white men between the ages of 18-35.

Last year in Marion County, 82 percent of suicide victims were male, and 81 percent were white. More than 33 percent were between the ages of 18-35.

Kurt Brattain was one of those young people who lost their lives to suicide. He took his own life at 19 – a death triggered by an under-diagnosed mental illness.

"We were treating his depression like we were treating high blood pressure," said Lisa Brattain, now with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. "Take your medicine every day and don't talk about it."

Stephanie Brodie, a wife and mother of two young children, wrestles with her own depression. Her 28-year-old brother died by suicide in 2010. His death has made her realize the need for constant vigilance when her illness begins to overwhelm her.

"When I go through a depression cycle, it's on my mind a lot," she said. "I've never attempted, but I definitely think about it a lot."

Community Health Network has a five-year grant to fund a Zero Suicide Initiative targeting young children and young adults. Patients served by its many providers are routinely screened for depression and suicide risk factors.

The program also has a public education component aimed at changing the culture and the conversation about suicide.

"That means suicide prevention training, alerting to the warning signs, the risk factors, and how to ask someone if they thought about suicide," said Lisa Gerdt, with the Zero Suicide Initiative.

We spoke with Dr. Kimble Richardson of Community Health Network about what the warning signs of suicide are, and what you should do if you know someone in crisis. Watch that interview below:

Brodie says she uses her brother's death and her own struggles with mental illness to help others. She now coordinates Fort Wayne's Out of the Darkness Walk to help survivors find answers to those difficult questions about loss, grief and whether they too have thoughts about suicide.

"I'd rather you be alive and angry that I've asked you thins than not to be with us anymore," Brodie said. "So I will absolutely ask someone and not care if they're going to be mad at me. Because I would rather have them mad and be here than to not be here."

There are numerous resources available online if you or someone you know experience ongoing thoughts of death or suicide:

If a suicide attempt has been made, you should contact a doctor or go to a hospital emergency room immediately, or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).