The ID cards for students in 7th to 12th grade in California now have imprinted on them the suicide prevention hot line number in an effort to combat the second most prevalent cause of death among US residents between 10 and 24 years of age.
The measure is part of state law SB 972, which requires all California's schools, including private and charter schools, to place on IDs for students in grades 7-12 the number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, reports Efe news.
The law, which entered into force during the new school year, also authorizes educational institutions to print on the ID card the telephone number of the local police of the security office on the student's campus, along with a the direct telephone number for suicide prevention, among others.
"This is important as during the last 3 years consistent with national trends TUSD has seen a significant increase in suicidal ideations among youth," Gil Ogden, the director of student services in the Turlock Unified School District (TUSD), told Efe in an interview on Monday.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the second most frequent cause of death among people between 10-34 in 2017.
"This is troubling as we are seeing a large increase in the number of students being referred for suicidal ideations even in the elementary grade levels," Ogden said.
The school district located in California's Central Valley has 14,000 students, of whom 6,000 will receive the new ID cards, which also have the number of the Stanislaus County mental health office and a number to report sex trafficking.
Not all parents in the TUSD took the news about the new ID cards well, and Ogden said that he had heard about "mixed reactions" to the new law, especially on the social networks.
According to CDC figures, since 1999 the suicide rate has risen by about 30 per cent nationwide, particularly among 10-17-year-olds.
Between 2006 and 2016 the suicide rate among people in this age group increased by 70 per cent, according to the agency.
In California, it's obligatory for students to carry their student ID cards while they are at school.