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New law requires suicide hotline number on school ID cards

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 9:25 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As Arizona students head back to school in the fall, they’ll have lifesaving information at their fingertips.

Beginning July 1, state law will require crisis hotline phone numbers to be printed on the backs of all high school and college student IDs in an effort to prevent teen suicide.

The Tucson Unified School District implemented this practice during the pandemic and counselors believe it’s a gamechanger.

They said it’s one more way to make sure students know they’re not alone - a feeling that is more important now than ever before.

In 2020, Teen Lifeline, the Phoenix-based nonprofit providing suicide prevention services to teenagers statewide, received nearly 29 percent more calls and texts than they received in 2019.

They received 23,341 calls and 11,497 text messages from troubled youths throughout Arizona.

Of the calls made to Teen Lifeline in 2020:

  • 23 percent were from children younger than 13.
  • 37 percent of callers were 13-15 years old.
  • 31 percent of callers were 16-18 years old.
  • Nine percent were 19 or older.

While these numbers are high, TUSD counselors said they’re actually a good thing.

Higher numbers mean teens feel they can and will reach out for help when they need it.

Counselors said putting a crisis hotline phone number on IDs will help any student who’s at risk or headed in that direction and doesn’t know how to find help or isn’t in a place to do so.

”They may not be able to take that step if they’re in crisis mode. Having this availability right there on their ID, that they’re with all day, is going to make a big difference,” Justin Freitag, a counselor at Cholla High School, said.

Freitag added that this simple change removes the stigma of asking for help from peers, teachers, guidance counselors, or an anonymous call to Teen Lifeline.

Arizona is only the fourth state to require this information on student IDs.

For more information, visit TeenLifeline.org.

For help, call or text Teen Lifeline at (602) 248-TEEN (8336) or (800) 248-TEEN.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.