OKLAHOMA CITY – Starting with the 2023 school year, Oklahoma students will have access to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline literally at their fingertips thanks to legislation recently signed into law. Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, authored Senate Bill 1307 to help address the high suicide rate of Oklahoma’s children and young adults by ensuring the phone number is printed on all public and private school student identification cards.
“Suicide is the second leading cause of death among our state’s youth and claimed the lives of 40 kids under the age of 17 in 2020,” Coleman said. “There’s no rhyme or reason as to why someone makes this tragic decision, but I want to ensure our students have a constant reminder on their students IDs that they are not alone and there is always someone a phone call away to help them in times of crisis.”
Beginning July 1, 2023, school districts and charter schools will be required to print the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 988 on student ID cards for 7th – 12th grades. The state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has announced it will be launching the new, easier to remember 988 number statewide in July 2022. SB 1307 will also allow schools the option of printing the Crisis Text Line on ID cards, which can be accessed by texting HOME to 741741.
Rep. Mark Vancuren, R-Owasso, is the principal House author of the measure.
“We have to do more in our schools and local communities to support those struggling with mental health issues, especially our children and teens, whose brain development and hormones don’t allow them to always process difficult situations in a rational way,” Vancuren said. “By having these important numbers with them, they can seek help at a moment’s notice to help them safely work through their depression, anger or stress with a caring professional.”
The new law also encourages Oklahoma’s private and public colleges and universities that issue student ID cards to also print the suicide hotline number, the Crisis Text Line, and the campus police or security telephone number on their cards beginning July 1, 2023.
The bill was also co-authored by Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-Oklahoma City.
In 2020, 883 Oklahomans committed suicide, including 38 youths between 8 and 17 years old and another 112 young adults 18 to 24. Data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) showed that one in four students reported they felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row.
If you or someone you know is facing a mental crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.