OKLAHOMA CITY -- A bill aimed at preventing suicide among Oklahoma students passed the House on Tuesday with a bipartisan vote of 93 to 1.
House Bill 3346, authored by Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-OKC), requires public schools that issue identification cards and serve students in grades seventh through twelfth, to print the telephone number and crisis text line for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on the ID card starting July 1, 2021. “Evidence shows that people with mental health challenges are more likely to get the help they need when they’re aware of support and treatments that are available to them," Dollens said.
"With this in mind, I decided to author House Bill 3346. This lifesaving service is free, confidential, and available 24/7, which is critical when a school counselor isn’t available.
“This legislation isn’t a cure-all for the mental health issues our student’s face. It is, however, a pragmatic, cost-effective approach that not only makes it easier for young people to connect with trained mental health professionals, but it also reminds them that they are not alone. By requiring schools to put the number on the back of student ID’s, we can get help to someone before it is too late.” In Oklahoma, someone dies from suicide every 12 hours. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Oklahomans between the ages of 15 and 34.
“After my brother's first attempt, I avoided talking about it because I thought those discussions may resurface suicidal thoughts,” Dollens said. “ After he died, I learned the opposite is true. Talking openly about suicide prevention is shown to reduce ideation and helps destigmatize mental illness.” The legislation is now available to be heard in the Senate.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is (800)273-8255 and will soon simply be 988.
The number for the Crisis Text Line is 741741.