Two bills signed into law by Governor Brown in recent weeks will place new requirements on schools to improve access to mental health services for California students.
Under SB 972, middle and high schools are required to print suicide prevention hotline numbers and text crisis hotline information on the back of students’ identification cards.
Another measure also signed by the governor recently, SB 2639, established a new requirement for schools to review their suicide prevention policies every five years at a minimum and to update them as needed.
Alarm bells sounded around the country earlier this year when a study by Vanderbilt University Medical Center study titled, Hospitalization for Suicide Ideation or Attempt, looked at trends in emergency room and inpatient encounters for suicide ideation and attempts in children between five and seventeen years of age during 2017.
The report showed more than half of the episodes involved those between 15 and 17 years, 37 percent were children between 12 and 14 years, and surprisingly, children between 5 and 11 years accounted for nearly 13 percent.
The Vanderbilt University report came on the heels of a 2016 report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It showed the suicide rate for children between the ages of 10 and 14 doubled nationally from 2007 to 2014. During this report period, suicide became the second leading cause of death among this age group.
“The health and safety of our students is paramount, and these policies better equip schools to recognize the warning signs and make the appropriate referrals for help,” said Assemblymen Marc Berman, (D-Palo Alto) and co-author of AB 2639.
If you know a young person or adult at risk, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-Talk (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.