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Wisconsin bill to mandate suicide hotline on student ID cards

Andrew Hudson   ||   Nov 22, 2019  ||   

Lawmakers in the Wisconsin state senate have proposed a bill that would mandate the printing of suicide prevention hotlines on all student ID cards issued in the state.

According to a report from Milwaukee's FOX 6 News, Senate Bill 496 would require school districts that issue student ID cards to print contact information for a suicide prevention hotline. However, the bill only accounts for existing student ID cards and would not require schools to start printing and issuing ID cards if they don't already do so.

Senate Bill 496 applies to all academic levels in the state, including colleges and universities. The bill lays out the basic language to be included on the back of the ID card, including a statement detailing the text-based emotional support service of the Center for Suicide Awareness -- accessed by texting HOPELINE to 741741. The local suicide prevention hotline must also provide free support to individuals in crisis 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

For higher education institutions, the bill specifically states that a university can either print the information directly onto its campus cards or affix a sticker that contains the information.

The idea behind the ID card initiative is that students experiencing suicidal thoughts aren't always going reach out to those they know for help. State lawmakers believe that making the support resource readily-available on the ID card is one small step toward solving a serious problem.

"Even if one kid reads the number and calls, it's successful," said Senator Luther Olsen, R-Ripon in a FOX 6 interview. "We always say, 'If it saves one life it's well, well worth it."

"It also empowers other kids because what do you do if your friend comes to you and they talk about committing suicide?" said Senator LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee. "Well, they have the number to help get answers, too."

The proposed bill in Wisconsin joins similar legislation proposed and enacted in other states. California in particular passed a law last year mandating suicide prevention hotlines be printed on all student ID cards in the state.

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