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. Councilmember David Grosso worked with 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 D.C. Council on April 5, 2016 and was signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser on April 27, 2016 as the first law in the nation to require a school suicide policy to address the needs of LGBTQ youth.
This new law requires that teachers and principals in D.C. 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. Clearly, this law will help save young lives in schools across D.C.
“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. Just last month, the California Assembly’s Education Committee held a hearing on a similar bill requiring middle and high schools to adopt suicide prevention policies.
Councilmember 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.” On May 6, 2016 at Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco, The Trevor Project is honoring Councilmember Grosso with the Ally Award for his help in drafting bill 21-361 at A Night Out for Trevor D.C.
The Trevor Project will now turn its attention to other states to ensure schools across the country have policies to help students who may be thinking of suicide. Learn more about the policy from Trevor’s Associate Director of Government Affairs, Amy Loudermilk, in The Advocate.
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.