Governor Jerry Brown has established a national precedent by signing AB 2246, a bill that requires the adoption of suicide prevention, intervention, and follow-up plans by local California school districts with students in grades 7-12. Co-authored with The Trevor Project, Equality California, and Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, AB 2246 is the first state bill of its kind in the nation, as it mandates that all schools in California implement suicide prevention policies that specifically address the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. The bill requires local education agencies to develop their policies in conjunction with suicide prevention experts, school and community stakeholders, and school mental health professionals.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people ages 10-24. Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, and nearly half of transgender people have thought about suicide.
Assemblymember O’Donnell believes that suicide prevention training for teachers and schools is crucial for saving young lives. “As classroom teacher, I know from experience that educators often serve as the first line of defense when a student is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts,” said Assemblymember O’Donnell, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “AB 2246 will provide parents, teachers and schools with the tools they need to help save the lives of at-risk youth.”
“Nearly 20 percent of young people who reach out to The Trevor Project’s suicide prevention programs are from California. AB 2246 will provide parents, teachers and schools the tools they need to recognize students at risk for suicide and understand how to help, which will surely decrease the risk among youth in the state” says Abbe Land, Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project.
“Aside from students’ own families, teachers often spend more time with at-risk kids than anyone else,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California. “But it is difficult help if they don’t recognize the warning signs or have access to resources at their schools. With the first state law in the nation to require middle and high school suicide prevention education that specifically requires attention to the needs of LGBTQ youth, California can now serve as a model for schools nationally.”
The Trevor Project is proud to have participated in the hearings that took place in Sacramento and thanks Boardmember Lindsay Chambers for testifying along with Trevor’s ED and CEO, Abbe Land. We also thank Governor Jerry Brown for this groundbreaking step in LGBTQ advocacy and education efforts.