Suicide Prevention & Mental Health: A Priority for Student Leaders

School will continue to look substantially different for most school districts throughout the 2020-21 school year. Due to this lack of normalcy, students, parents, teachers, and others face newfound mental health challenges, some of which include thoughts of suicide. 

To help combat the alarming rate of suicide in young people, the Legislature passed Substitute House Bill 2589 in the 2020 legislative session. HB 2589 requires school districts to start listing suicide crisis hotline information on all student and staff ID cards by June of 2021. 

WSSDA and student advocates strongly supported the passage of HB 2589. Throughout the session, the students informed WSSDA staff about challenges that some districts had been facing in providing crisis hotline information and opportunities they felt existed for further addressing suicide prevention. In response, WSSDA created a workgroup mostly comprised of student representatives to develop and share recommendations to help school districts effectively implement the new requirement.

How the group started and what it produced

Normally when legislation impacting K-12 education is passed, WSSDA’s response takes the form of writing new model policies or procedures. But seeing how important this issue was for the student leaders, WSSDA decided to help ensure that district staff and legislators could hear what the students had to share. 

WSSDA Strategic Advocacy Coordinator Logan Endres explained that “seeing how passionate the students were, we thought what better way to honor their passion and commitment than to form a statewide workgroup to help the legislation have the best possible impact on school districts.” 

As a result, WSSDA created the Suicide Awareness & Prevention Workgroup with the intention to elevate student voices from around the state to share a list of recommendations that will help districts:

  • design student and staff identification cards with this new requirement in mind;
  • engage students in suicide awareness & prevention programming at school; and
  • ensure districts are doing their best to create safe spaces for students.

View the full workgroup report.

More opportunities for students

WSSDA regularly facilitates opportunities for student advocacy and engagement. If you and/or one of your student representatives would like to stay informed regarding these opportunities, consider joining our student advocacy distribution list.