California now requires suicide prevention hotline printed on junior high, high school student ID cards

FRESNO, Calif. -- As junior high students and high schoolers head back to school, they may spot a new addition to their ID card.

It's a phone number, 1-800- 273-8255, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

As part of a new California law, starting this school year, student IDs for every student in grades 7th through 12th and for college students will have suicide prevention information printed on the back. It's required at all public, private and charter schools.

School physiologist Kerry Hawkins thinks this will help students.

"If there is nobody around, no one you can reach out to or physically speak to right then and there, it's something they have quick access too. They can refer too. They can call reach out. Like I said the more resources they have the better," she said.

Pete Gibson has a son who is a freshman at Hoover High. He said he's glad the number has been added to the ID card.

"It's sad it's come to this, but I'm grateful someone is being proactive about it. I'm very grateful,"he said.

But the number does force parents like him to confront a difficult topic.

"When I think back to my junior high school years to think a 7th grader that's contemplating suicide that breaks my heart, that does," Gibson said.

Gibson hopes to keep an open line of communication with his son about depression and suicide.

Besides the hotline number, schools are holding suicide prevention presentations and giving teachers training on the subject.

"We have a program called signs of suicide and what we do is provide the education to our students and teach them skills and teach them the signs of suicide," said school social worker, Noreida Perez. "How to identify and how to act on if you hear someone you know that is struggling with thoughts of suicide how to help them."

If you're thinking about suicide, or if you are worried about someone you know, there is free, confidential help available anytime. Visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website or call 800-273-TALK (8255).

KGO-TV contributed to this report.
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