SACRAMENTO – Today the Legislature passed Assembly Bill 2639, authored by Assemblymembers Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) and Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), aimed at preventing student suicide, the second leading cause of death among 10- to 24- year olds.
“Having outdated suicide prevention policies will do little to protect our students,” said Assemblymember Berman. “This proactive bill will ensure that schools’ suicide prevention policies stay relevant and continue to support students’ mental health needs.”
If signed, schools would be required to review their suicide prevention policies at least every five years and to update them if necessary. This bill builds upon Assembly Bill 2246 (O’Donnell), which Governor Brown signed in 2016, requiring schools serving students in grades 7 to 12 to adopt a suicide prevention policy in consultation with school and community stakeholders, mental health professionals, and suicide prevention experts.
“Our teachers and school staff are on the front lines of preventing suicide and helping students in crisis, but they need regularly updated policies and the resources to do so,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “We’re proud to be fighting alongside the Trevor Project and Assemblymembers Berman and O’Donnell to prevent youth suicide and support LGBTQ students in crisis.”
Students spend roughly 1,000 hours per year in school. In a national survey conducted by the Jason Foundation, pupils reported that the number one person they would turn to for help for a friend who might be suicidal was a teacher.
“As millions of students return to classrooms in the coming weeks, they should be assured that the school they attend is prepared to support them and respond to the challenge of suicide with an up-to-date and robust suicide prevention policy,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project. “The incredible work of legislators like Assemblymembers Berman and O’Donnell in the passage of AB 2639 will guarantee that the suicide prevention policies across California's school districts are properly reviewed and support all students.”
Contact: Kaitlin Curry, (916) 319-2024