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Indiana school counselors name Crown Point representative their 'Legislator of the Year'

State Rep. Julie Olthoff, R-Crown Point, right, recently was named "Legislator of the Year" by the Indiana School Counselor Association. The award was presented by Counselor Association President Jen Money-Brady, center. State Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, left, also was honored by the organization.

INDIANAPOLIS — State Rep. Julie Olthoff, R-Crown Point, is winning plaudits for a new law she sponsored this year that seeks to prevent suicide in Indiana, particularly youth suicide.

The Indiana School Counselor Association recently named Olthoff its Legislator of the Year for including school counselors in House Enrolled Act 1430, which requires all middle and high school employees to be trained in youth suicide prevention every three years.

"Rep. Olthoff shares our lifework of advocating for student success," said Jen Money-Brady, the counselor association president. "She knows what a critical role school counselors play in student achievement and well-being."

Olthoff said school counselors have an unique opportunity to influence the lives of young people in Indiana by promoting policies that support a healthy lifestyle.

"Being named the ISCA Legislator of the Year is a great honor," Olthoff said. "Putting legislation into place that helps counselors better serve children is good for the whole state.

"When children grow up with support, they have a much better chance at success."

Olthoff's legislation separately requires Indiana's Division of Mental Health and Addiction to employ a statewide suicide prevention coordinator to implement and oversee suicide prevention training at workplaces other than school buildings.

In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, a total of 960 Hoosiers took their own lives, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The state's suicide rate was 14.4 per 100,000 people. That was higher than the national rate of 13.26 suicide deaths per 100,000 people.

CDC data show that suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Indiana residents ages 15 to 34, and the third-leading cause of death for Hoosiers ages 10 to 14.

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Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.