California became the first state in the country on Monday (26 September) to require middle and high school policies on suicide prevention for LGBTI and other at-risk populations.
Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law designed to save the lives of LGBTI youth who are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.
The law, known as AB 2246, requires local education agencies to develop policies in conjunction with suicide prevention experts, school and community stakeholders, and school mental health professionals.
Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, a Democrat from Long Beach, authored the bill with was sponsored by the groups Equality California and The Trevor Project.
Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, says the state can now serve as a model for schools across the country.
‘Aside from students’ own families, teachers often spend more time with at-risk kids than anyone else,’ Zbur said.
‘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.’
Previous state law only encouraged school districts to have anti-suicide plans in place but did not require it. The state’s Department of Education will develop a model plan to serve as a guide for the local districts.