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California Adds Suicide Prevention Hotline to All Student IDs

Student ID

The move aims to help save the lives of at-risk young people.


California students returning to school have noticed a lifesaving change in their identification cards.

The state now requires all public and private schools to print the telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) on at least one side of the cards.

The change, required for students in grades 7 through 12, is required by California law through Senate Bill 972. It was officially implemented in July 2019.

In addition to the lifeline, the ID cards are also required to list the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741) and the phone number of a local resource for suicide prevention.

"As a father and a legislator, the safety of our children is a top priority. I hope that as a community we are more open to have a dialogue about mental health and suicide to help prevent these horrific tragedies," said state Sen. Anthony Portantino, who introduced the legislation in 2018. "If one life can be saved through this bill then all of our efforts will have been worth it."

Overwhelmingly, parents at the Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Calif., told KABC, Los Angeles's ABC affiliate, that the revised cards were a "great idea."

"I think any opportunity for somebody to have a number to be able to call out to, reach out to and be available, I think it's fantastic," said Ray Morgan.

Suicide is the leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24 -- and the rates have been rising in California and nationwide. LGBTQ youth are particularly at risk. A new report from the Trevor Project shows that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ young people (ages 13 to 24) contemplate a suicide attempt each year in the United States.

Sam Brinton, head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for the Trevor Project, applauded the new ID policy as "a step in the right direction." (A 2018 report from the group noted that 25 percent of California's school suicide prevention policies still do not address LGBTQ students.)

"Comprehensive school suicide prevention and crisis intervention policies are important because of the large amount of time that young people spend in school or on school-related activities," Brinton said in a statement sent to The Advocate. "Providing students with easy-to-access resources is a step in the right direction and shows young people that they are supported and never alone."

If you are a trans or gender-nonconforming person considering suicide Trans Lifeline can be reached at (877) 565-8860. LGBTQ youth (ages 24 and younger) can reach the Trevor Project Lifeline at (866) 488-7386. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 can also be reached 24 hours a day by people of all ages and identities.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.