Anti-Suicide ID Cards Make Debut in Schools

The back of the new student ID cards carried by South Pasadena students starting at the seventh-grade level.

A potentially life-saving bill, aimed at students in the seventh grade and higher in California, kicked in last week with the opening of the new school year — a bill that requires the National Suicide Prevention Hotline telephone number, among other reachout resources,  to be printed on all student identification cards.

“As a father, I don’t want to ever read another story in the paper about a teen who took his or her life,’’ said state Sen. Anthony Portantino, the author of the bill, which officially became law on July 1.

Portantino, whose district includes South Pasadena, also said, “I am hopeful that for students struggling with depression and grappling with suicidal thoughts, having this resource readily available will save a life.  It’s a simple idea that should have a significant impact.”

Besides the Suicide Prevention Lifeline  (1-800) 273-8255, or (1-800) 273-TALK — a “Crisis Text Line” is also required to be printed somewhere on all student IDs. For South Pasadena students, that text number is 741741.

According to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people ages 15-24.

The CDC reported in 2017 that the number of girls 15-19 committing suicide had doubled from 2007 to 2015. The statistics cited show 5.1 suicides per 100,000 in that age group, marking a 40-year high.

The boys suicide rate in that age group climbed 30 percent, to 14.2 per 100,000, in the same time period, the CDC report said.

“The addition of the suicide hotline on student identification cards is a sensible inclusion that will undoubtedly save lives,’’ said Portantino, who lost a brother to suicide in 2010. 

Portantino urged parents to reach out to their kids and talk about feelings.

“I’ve had a number of parents come up to me and say, ‘My son, my daughter had a conversation with us about the number,’” Portantino told KPIX TV in the Bay Area.

“It’s stimulating, that conversation and that awareness, and I think that opens doors to helping kids.”

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