PLEASANTON (KPIX 5) — Students returning to school this year all across California will find something new on their ID cards: phone numbers to suicide prevention and counseling.
Beginning July 1, 2019, state law requires every student ID from seventh grade on up to college, to have the phone number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Crisis Text Line, and a local number for help, printed somewhere on the card.
The author of the bill, state Sen. Anthony Portantino of southern California, lost his brother to suicide in 2010. He urges families to confront the issue with honest discussions.
“I’ve had a number of parents come up to me and say ‘My son, my daughter had a conversation with us about the number,'” said Portantino. “It’s stimulating that conversation and that awareness and I think that opens doors to helping kids.”
Pleasanton Unified School District began printing the hotline number on cards in 2018, well ahead of the new law, after extensive conversations with counselors and school social workers, according to Patrick Gannon, Pleasanton Unified School District spokesperson.
“It’s so important that students and families know that those resources are out there,” said Gannon. “Because if they don’t, then bad things can happen.”
Megan Sloan, student body vice president at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, offered advice to the millions of students who are about to see the numbers for the first time on their IDs.
“Don’t freak out! If anything, start a conversation, let your friends know you’re there for them. I really feel like this is just another thing that’s making our community so much stronger,” said Sloan. “But it’s these little reminders that people are out there to support you. And I think hopefully, if it ever is necessary, I just pray that someone finds this.”
“We need to bring it out of the shadows. We need to be forthright about it. We need to confront it,” said Portantino.
How to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also can provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.