Rep Andrea Schroeder (R-43-Waterford) detailed her “Save Our Students” plan in a statement on Wednesday, highlighting the plan’s usefulness for students who are struggling with thoughts of suicide.
The plan was introduced to the Michigan House of Representatives last month.
Schroeder’s bill would require schools that issue identification cards to include the phone number for a crisis and suicide prevention hotline on each card.
“Although we have services available, we must find better ways to connect our young people with the mental health services they need when they’re feeling overwhelmed and need help,” Schroeder said in a statement. “The ‘Save Our Students’ plan will provide a number to call at any time, day or night – and with it comes a listening ear and a helping hand.”
The bill would apply to identification cards issued to students in grades 6 through 12, and districts could print numbers for either the local, statewide or nationwide hotlines. The “Save Our Students” plan would not require schools not currently issuing identification cards to begin issuing them.
Schroeder said the idea to create the plan came from a grieving Oakland County mother who lost her son to suicide last year.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Michigan residents between the ages of 10 and 24, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The suicide rate among the same age group has been climbing over the past decade and outpaced the national rate from 2011 to 2017.
“We must be proactive when it comes to raising awareness about mental health services, especially in our schools,” Schroeder said. “I have a child who struggled with depression and anxiety disorders and we were very concerned about self-harm. I made the kind of bargain desperate parents make, ‘Please, God, save my child. I vow to do everything in my power to save another.’ This legislation is a promise kept. I will continue to fight for these kinds of reforms to ensure our children know they have help readily available.”
The bill also calls for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to provide materials to schools on suicide prevention, depression and anxiety, which the schools would be encouraged to display on their websites and in school buildings.
“When a child takes their own life, the grief strikes families and entire school communities with a sense of loss that’s hard to fathom,” said Schroeder. “It’s heartbreaking to realize this is happening more and more in Michigan and across the nation even though our schools and parents are working hard to educate our students on the importance of mental health awareness.”
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State New and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected].