SALEM, Ore. — Several Oregon state agencies and organizations are working to launch a new "Suicide Prevention and Wellness Program" for each school district in the state, the result of legislation passed by lawmakers in 2019.
The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education jointly heralded the new venture on Tuesday, part of a collaboration with the Lines for Life organization and local suicide prevention groups.
"All of our students deserve to feel safe, welcome and secure," said ODE Director Colt Gill. "Through the Suicide Prevention and Wellness Program, we’re one step closer to making schools the welcoming safe haven our students need and deserve."
As part of the program, Lines for Life plans to hire four regional school suicide prevention and wellness coordinators across the state, tasked with working alongside local schools districts and suicide prevention groups to support students and their families.
The program stems from "Adi's Act," a bill passed last year. The bill was named after Adi Staub, a young transgender woman in Oregon who died by suicide in 2017. The group Basic Rights Oregon worked with Staub's family to develop the bill, which requires each school district in Oregon to adopt a suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention response policy and plan.
"It’s so powerful to see this legislation become a reality for kids throughout the state," said Nancy Haque, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon. "The purpose of Adi’s Act is to ensure that, no matter who students love or how they identify, they are protected, supported, and see a future for themselves in Oregon."
Lines for Life and the Oregon Health Authority are also offering grants of up to $1,500 to school districts in order to fund staff, training, and curriculum in order to build school suicide prevention plans.
In addition, funding from OHA is available for school districts or local suicide prevention leaders to offer various trainings to students, staff, school counselors, parents and other adults.
"While we know that suicide is a preventable cause of death, we also know that we must continue to do as much as we can to create and maintain safety nets for all of our students, not just some," said OHA Director Pat Allen.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please know that help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline run by Lines For Life at 800-273-8255 or text '273TALK' to 839863. En español: 888-628-9454. TTY: 800-799-4TTY (4889).
Youthline is a teen-to-teen crisis and help line. Teens are available to help daily, 4 to 10 p.m. Pacific Time (off-hour calls answered by Lines for Life). Call 877-968-8491 or text teen2teen to 839863 or chat at http://www.oregonyouthline.org/.