‘Save our Students’ proposal would help connect troubled youth with crisis hotline
Rep. Andrea Schroeder’s ‘Save Our Students’ plan to help prevent suicides among Michigan’s young people is advancing in the state House of Representatives.
Schroeder’s legislation would require schools that issue identification cards to include a 24-hour crisis and suicide prevention hotline on each card for students in grades 6 through 12. The mission is to combat the second-leading cause of death for Michigan young people between the ages of 10 and 24.
The House Education Committee unanimously approved the measure today after hearing testimony from Schroeder and an Oakland County family that suggested the legislation. The measure advances to the House Ways and Means committee for further consideration.
“This legislation is simple – let’s get the resources we already have directly into the hands of our students to help prevent suicides,” said Schroeder, of Oakland County’s Independence Township. “This is no longer a question of ‘what can we do’ — but rather ‘what must we do’ to save our students. There are services available, and we must find better ways to connect our young people with these services when they need help.”
The suggestion for Schroeder’s plan came from grieving Oakland County parents who lost their 15-year-old son to suicide last year. Kris and Joe Miller shared their story about their son, Nikolai, with the House Education Committee. Their message: Michigan can’t ignore suicide and the need for mental health services, particularly among young people.
“I still firmly believe today that he didn’t actually mean to die, as many survivors of suicide attempts will tell you. They just want the pain to end and they don’t know of any other way than to kill themselves,” Kris Miller said. “But what if Nikolai would have had immediate access to a suicide hotline where he could call and talk through his feelings? This could have been a turning point for him and for our family. This would have started the process of having real conversations and getting him the help he desperately needed. Teens nowadays are not going to Google suicide hotline numbers. If it’s not readily at their fingertips, they are not going to seek out that information, especially in a time of crisis. Having a 24/7 hotline printed on student ID cards lets kids know they have options. They have a resource to call when they may need it most.”
Michigan’s youth suicide rate has been climbing over the past decade. Schroeder’s proposal is designed to fight this trend.
School districts would print phone numbers for a suicide prevention hotline of their choosing – local, statewide, or nationwide – on each card for students in grades 6 through 12. There is no mandate to issue identification cards – the proposal applies only to schools that choose to provide students with ID cards, and the hotline number can be easily incorporated into card designs.
Schroeder’s plan also calls for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide information materials for schools related to suicide prevention, depression, and anxiety. Schools would be encouraged to display this information on their websites and in select locations within school buildings.
“Each and every youth suicide is heartbreaking for the families and communities involved,” Schroeder said. “It’s also heartbreaking to realize it’s happening more and more often across the state and across the country. We must come together and do more to ensure our children know help is available when they need it most.”
Rep. Andrea Schroeder today said a plan soon to be introduced in the Michigan House offers a framework to improve the state’s response for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These new measures are a significant step forward to keep people safe and provide the help they need during what continues to be a very challenging time – in Oakland County and all across Michigan,” said Schroeder, of Independence Township. “This is a smart strategy that improves the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic across the board – helping families put food on the table, pay their bills, and stay healthy.”
Rep. Andrea Schroeder’s plan allowing Children’s Ombudsman investigators to quickly dedicate more resources to cases where child abuse is suspected has been signed into Michigan law.