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Governor Signs Law Requiring School Youth Suicide Prevention Plans

October 10, 2016

On September 26, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 2246, authored by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach). The bill requires school districts across the state to adopt formal suicide prevention, intervention, and follow-up plans for all middle and high school students. AB 2246 is sponsored by Equality California and The Trevor Project.

“As a classroom teacher, I know from experience that educators often serve as the first line of defense when a student is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts,” said Assemblymember O’Donnell, chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “AB 2246 will provide parents, teachers and schools with the tools they need to help save the lives of at-risk youth.”

AB 2246 is the first bill of its kind in the nation, mandating that all schools with students in grades 7-12 implement suicide prevention policies that specifically address the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. The bill requires local education agencies to develop policies in conjunction with suicide prevention experts, school and community stakeholders, and school mental health professionals.

“Aside from students’ own families, teachers often spend more time with at-risk kids than anyone else," said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, a nonprofit civil rights organization that advocates for LGBT people in California. "But it is difficult to help at risk youth if teachers and school counselors don’t recognize the warning signs or have access to resources at their schools. With the first state law in the nation to require middle and high school suicide prevention education that specifically requires attention to the needs of LGBTQ youth, California can now serve as a model for schools across the country."

“Nearly 20 percent of young people who reach out to The Trevor Project’s suicide prevention programs are from California,” said Abbe Land, executive director and CEO of The Trevor Project. “AB 2246 will provide parents, teachers and schools the tools they need to recognize students at risk for suicide and understand how to help, which will surely decrease the risk among youth in the state.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people ages 10-24. LGB youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, and nearly half of transgender people have thought about suicide.

Source:  Equality California

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