In full transparency, the following is a press release from Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis.
BOSTON – As part of their ongoing commitment to youth health and wellness, Representative Jack Patrick Lewis (Framingham), Representative Natalie Higgins (Leominster), and Senator Jo Comerford (Northampton) refiled H.1999/S.1238. “An Act relative to student mental health.”
This legislation would require that student ID cards include the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
While suicide is a leading cause of death for people of all ages in the United States, young people are particularly at risk.
According to a study published by the National Center for Health Statistics at the end of last year, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Americans aged 15-24, representing a 56% increase in the previous decade.
There are significant disparities in these numbers, with LGBTQ+ youth being at greater risk, and Black youth seeing a 73% increase in youth suicide rates in that same time period.
“We must ensure that every student has the information and access to receive the support and resources they need,” said Rep. Lewis. “It can be hard to reach out or find the needed information to obtain help, which is why this bill is so essential.”
The legislation would require that the 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline and Crisis Text be printed on all new student IDs.
The requirement would apply to all schools, grades 6 through 12 in Massachusetts, along with academic institutions of higher learning. There are currently 26 co-sponsors on the bill.
Similar legislation has passed in a number of different states, including Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Washington, South Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey, California, and Wisconsin.
“The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated a number of the social, mental, and physical risk factors for suicidality, in addition to reducing contact with support networks outside the home. This bill is more pressing than ever,” added Rep. Lewis.