SOUTH CAROLINA (WSAV) – More than one in five kids 15 and under has seriously considered suicide sometime in their life according to a South Carolina mental health study.
That’s why a new bill, sitting on the Governor’s desk right now, is designed to give those students a visual reminder there is help, right at the fingertips.
The bill would require South Carolina middle schools, high schools, and colleges to print the number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on student identification cards.
Both the South Carolina House and Senate unanimously approved the proposal.
The bill also requires public schools to print contact information for a second crisis hotline, from dating violence to child abuse or other organization on the badges as well.
231 kids under the age of 19 died by suicide between 2015 and 2019 according to a recent South Carolina School of Medicine study.
“it might just be high school or it might be something more. They might be depressed. Not just feeling down, really depressed.” explained kids in a recent public service announcement on suicide.
Public service announcements outline the signs of a potentially suicidal teen.
But when it comes for the resources to potentially help, they aren’t as easy to find.. yet.
“Everything is on the internet, everything is immediate gratification it could save a lot of lives,” explains Vanessa Riley of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Vanessa Riley of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says even if someone notices the signs of depression or a potentially suicidal teen, many don’t know who to call or how to help.
“If you see a friend struggling you will know what to do rather than saying oh I wish I had known,” said Riley. “But not everyone knows and they are afraid to be the first ones to reach out so this makes reaching out much easier.”
Vanessa Riley’s own son Sean killed himself 12 years ago.
She says just having a number, a way out handy could save someone else’s son’s life.
“If a teen sees a friend struggling they will know what to call, and if they are struggling themselves they will say wow I have this ID right here and it has got this number on it,” says Riley.
According to domestic abuse and sexual violence agencies like Hopeful Horizons, Getting the word out and having information in their hands at a moment’s notice is vital to getting them to report, and getting them help.
“Convenience makes a difference,” explains Hopeful Horizons CEO Kristen Dubrowski. “Kids have their student IDs on them, knowing that number is there knowing where to look for it. Seconds count and it can help just by having it more accessible for them.”
There is a text number for anyone in South Carolina or beyond who thinks they may need help. It is 741 741. That will connect you directly to a crisis counselor.
The suicide lifeline number if 1-800-273-8255.
The South Carolina Crisis line is 844-SCHOPES
The Foundation has also begun an interactive screening program for people 18 and over. It is connected directly to the Department of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.
You can go online at hope.connectsyou.org and take a screening program. Find out if you are high risk, and you will get connected with a counselor from the Department of Mental Health.
For more information go to: https://afsp.org/