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Daily Bulletin: Local Legislators Celebrate New Office Of Suicide Prevention, Stress Need For More Efforts

Date: October 21, 2020
By: Beau Yarbrough
Source: Daily Bulletin

A bill by Assemblyman James Ramos, D-Highland, and state Sen. Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, created the office

Legislators celebrated a new statewide office dedicated to preventing suicide Wednesday, Oct. 21, but said more needs to be done to curb the second leading killer of young people.

“Suicide and mental health help is something desperately needed in this state of California,” said Assemblyman James Ramos, D-Highland. “We can’t rest … We have to talk about it, we have to embrace that issue, so that people going through this in their lives will know that they’re not alone and there’s help out there for them.”

Ramos spearheaded a Wednesday news conference, in part to celebrate passage of Assembly Bill 2112, which he wrote and which was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 25. The bill creates a new Office of Suicide Prevention within the State Department of Public Health. The office will analyze efforts to prevent suicide and share best practices to prevent future suicides.

“Suicide rates are rising and we need to do everything we can to mitigate that,” state Sen. Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, who co-authored the bill, said Wednesday.

According to an audit report issued on Sept. 30 by the California State Auditor, suicides among those ages 12 to 19 increased 15% between 2009 and 2018, and incidents of self-harm increased 50% during the same period. Nationally, teen suicides rose 34% for those between 15 and 19 years old between 2016 and 2019 — faster than the already-large national average increase of 25%.

The audit also found that school districts lack the resources and policies needed to respond to rising suicide rates among young people. The audit found inadequate mental health supports at districts throughout the state, with no local education agency employing the number of counselors, nurses, social workers or psychologists recommended by the state. A quarter of the agencies didn’t have any mental health resources at all.

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