California Passes Suicide Prevention Bill Aimed At Protecting LGBT Youth

"AB 2246 will save young LGBT lives."

California lawmakers have passed a bill to help LGBT young people struggling with depression and suicide.

AB 2246 requires public schools in the state to have comprehensive suicide-prevention plans in place for students in grades 7-12.

The measure was passed by the State Assembly Tuesday and is expected to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown.

patrick odonnell
Patrick O'Donnell

The bill was authored by Assembly member Patrick O’Donnell in conjunction with Equality California and the Trevor Project.

“As a classroom teacher, I know from experience that educators often serve as the first line of defense when a student is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts,” said O’Donnell, chairman of the education committee.

Current California law only encourages schools to have plans in place—under AB 2246, school districts would be required to establish protocols for prevention, intervention and follow-up, developed with suicide-prevention experts, parents, student advocates and mental health professionals.

The bill also requires the California Department of Education to develop a model for districts to follow.

Middle school students socialize outdoors between classes in California, USA.
Getty Images

“In spite of the sobering statistics on youth suicide, California lags behind many other states in requiring school districts to have suicide prevention policies in place,” says Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California.

“With LGBT youth up to four times more likely to attempt suicide compared to their non-LGBT peers,” he concluded, “AB 2246 will save young LGBT lives.”

If signed, California would become the first state to require suicide prevention for LGBT students and other at-risk populations at the middle and high-school level.

September 2016 is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

h/t: Gay Star News

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