Legislation aimed to help prevent suicide and human trafficking passes Senate Committee
Monday morning, and coincidentally on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Senate Bill 19, posed to help combat suicide and human trafficking for middle and high school-aged students, passed the Indiana Senate Family and Children’s Services committee with a 7-2 vote.
The bill, co-authored by Senator Michael Crider and Senator Jon Ford, and actively supported by Harsha Behavioral Center of Terre Haute, requires public schools that issue a student identification card to students in grades 6-12 to include a local, state or national suicide prevention hotline telephone number; and human trafficking hotline telephone number. Each of these resources must be available to provide support to callers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for adolescents in our country, and unfortunately, Indiana has seen this at a rate higher than the national average,” stated Senator Ford. “Having seen this tragic loss of life in my own community, I believe it’s important we do everything we can to help young Hoosiers know there is always someone ready to listen and help them through whatever it is they’re going through.”
Currently, the bill states the legislation will go into effect on July 1, 2021. Schools are welcome to either print the information on the student identification cards directly or print stickers that will be affixed to the identification cards.
“Senate Bill 19 is particularly important because COVID-19 has made the normal stresses students face dramatically worse,” Senator Crider said. “I’m hopeful that having these important numbers close by will give those in crisis the connection to resources they need.”
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, each year, one in six youth between the age of 6 to 17 experience a mental health disorder. Nationally, suicide is the second leading cause of death among individuals 10 to 34 and Indiana ranks third out of 36 states in the percentage of students who have seriously considered suicide, according to Indiana Youth Institute.
“This legislation has been crafted at a time of great urgency. It will grant an essential resource to our state’s children,” stated Roopam Harshawat, CEO of Harsha Behavioral Center. “This is a time of heightened anxiety, stressors and depression. We all need to rally behind this legislation to equip our youth with added information that is easily accessible for suicide prevention.”
The bill will be on the Senate second reading calendar for a final vote before moving to the House. For more information, click here.