According to the Centers for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2012, nearly 15% of the District of Columbia’s students ages 11-17 had contemplated suicide at some point, with statistics more than doubling for the LGBTQ population, ages 11-13.
In an effort to reduce these alarming numbers, Washington. D.C. Council Member David Grosso worked with leading suicide prevention and crisis intervention nonprofit The Trevor Project, The D.C. Center, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and others to pass bill 21-361, the Youth Suicide Prevention and School Climate Survey Amendment Act 23 of 2015. The bill was passed unanimously by the DC Council on April 5, 2016 and now heads to the Mayor for her signature.
Requiring that teachers and principals in DC schools receive training every two years on recognizing the warning signs and risk factors for youth suicide and implement best practices for suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention, bill 21-361 is now the first law in the nation to require a school suicide policy to specifically address the needs of LGBTQ youth.
“The Trevor Project is proud to have played a key role in helping this bill pass, which will help not only LGBTQ youth, but also foster and homeless youth, as well as those living with mental illness, substance use disorders, self-harming behaviors, and those bereaved by suicide,” Abbe Land, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project says.
Through early intervention, bill 21-361 is a long-term investment in young people’s futures. With the enactment of this bill, there is now model legislative language that other states can use to implement similar laws. California has already taken advantage of this and on April 6, 2016, we were part of passing a similar bill, AB 2246, through the California Assembly Education Committee. AB 2246 will require middle and high schools to adopt suicide prevention policies for grades 7-12, and is now moving forward to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Council Member Grosso says, “Throughout the legislative process, The Trevor Project was a strong partner and consistent advocate for the mental health services and policies needed to put our students in the best position to learn and succeed. I thank them for their partnership and look forward to working with them on future projects.”
The Trevor Project will now turn its attention to California and other states to ensure schools across the country have policies to help students who may be thinking of suicide. To keep up-to-date with current research, the policy must be revisited every five years.
To join us in our advocacy efforts to bring suicide prevention to schools, visit our Advocacy page. Thank you for helping save young lives by being a part of local, state, and federal change.
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth. Every day, The Trevor Project saves young lives through its free and confidential lifeline, educational materials, online resources, and advocacy. For more information, visit www.TheTrevorProject.org.
Amy Loudermilk, Assoc. Director of Government Affairs
Shawn Steiner, Marketing Director
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