As all California students in junior high and high school head back to school, they may spot a new addition to their ID card.
It’s the National Suicide Prevention Hotline phone number, 1-800-273-8255.
California passed a new law that went into effect on July 1 that requires schools to print the National Suicide Prevention Hotline phone number on the backs student ID cards grades 7-12 and it also includes college campuses. It’s required at all public, private, and charter schools.
The goal is to strip away the stigma of mental health and give students the resources right at their fingertips.
Kerry Hawkins, a school physiologist, thinks this will help students.
“If there is nobody around, no one you can reach out to or physically speak to right then and there, it’s something they have quick access too,” Kerry said. “They can refer too. They can call reach out. Like I said the more resources they have the better.”
Pete Gibson, a father of a Hoover High’s freshman, said he’s glad the the the number has been added to the ID card.
“It’s sad it’s come to this, but I’m grateful someone is being proactive about it,” Gibson said. “I’m very grateful.”
However, the number does force parents like him to confront a difficult topic.
“When I think back to my junior high school years to think a 7th grader that’s contemplating suicide that breaks my heart, that does,” Gibson said.
The father hopes to keep an open line of communication with his son about depression and suicide.
Schools are also holding suicide prevention presentations and giving teachers training on the subject.
“We have a program called signs of suicide and what we do is provide the education to our students and teach them skills and teach them the signs of suicide. How to identify and how to act on if you hear someone you know that is struggling with thoughts of suicide how to help them,” said Noreida Perez, a school social worker.