By The Leader Staff
Rudy Salas
Rudy Salas

Backed by an auditor’s report asked for from Assemblymember Rudy Salas, he learned that Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) lack the resources and policies necessary to address rising rates of youth suicide and self-harm effectively.

To address the discrepancies, Salas has introduced legislation – Assembly Bill (AB) 58 – to address the increase in youth suicides and self-harm across the state by improving youth suicide prevention within schools.

On Wednesday, AB 58 passed out of the Assembly Education Committee with bipartisan support.

“No child should die by suicide or feel like they do not have the help they need around them—we can and must do more to prevent future tragedies,” said Salas. “AB 58 will give schools the resources and training necessary to improve care for students that are at-risk and reduce the troubling rise in suicides and self-harm.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide was the second leading cause of death nationwide among young people ages 10 to 24 in 2017. Remarkably, a 2019 report by the United Health Foundation found that California was one of seven states with the most significant increases in teen suicide rates from 2016 to 2019.

In a recent tragic example in San Joaquin County, a sixth-grade student shot himself while on a distance learning Zoom call. The State Auditor’s report noted that “According to the National Association of School Psychologists, youth who are contemplating suicide frequently give warning signs of their distress but are not likely to seek help directly. Thus, training school staff to respond to youth who exhibit warning signs of suicide is imperative.”

AB 58 requires LEAs to review and update their policy on pupil suicide prevention and revise training materials to incorporate best practices identified by the California Department of Education (CDE) in the department’s model policy. The bill also encourages LEA’s to provide suicide awareness and prevention training at the beginning of each school year. Lastly, the bill requires CDE to develop resources and guidance on conducting suicide awareness and prevention training remotely to be provided to LEA’s.

AB 58 will now head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.