Senator Melissa Hurtado Introduces Bill to Prevent Teen Suicides

February 20, 2019

SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger), along with principal co-author Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and co-author Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), introduced SB 331, legislation that emphasizes a more proactive approach on preventing suicides. The bill will require that all California counties develop a suicide prevention plan while focusing on the staggering rise in deaths among adolescents.

“In the last ten years, California has experienced an overall rise in deaths by suicide. For every 100,000 adolescent between the ages of 15 and 24, we’re seeing that counties like Kern and Tulare are encountering some of the highest suicide rates,” said Sen. Hurtado. “Growing up in Sanger, I saw firsthand how this issue negatively impacts not only families but the future of our communities.  SB 331 will ensure that we’re taking every step to prioritize mental health on a local level,” continued Senator Hurtado.

Youth suicide and self-inflicted injury is on the rise, and is the second leading cause of death among youth ages 14 to 24 in the U.S. In California, almost 20 percent of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous year, with almost one-half (49 percent) of LGBTQ students reporting suicidal ideation – more than three times the estimate compared to their straight peers.

“Alarmingly, suicide rates for teenage girls have hit a 40 year high. With SB 331, our counties have the opportunity to create a suicide prevention plan that will address this crisis,” stated Assemblymember Levine. “Losing a loved one to suicide is devastating. We must do more to prevent the growing number of suicides in our communities.”

“I am pleased to co-author SB 331, requiring all counties to develop a suicide prevention strategic plan for youth. Santa Clara County is one of only seven counties that have developed a suicide prevention strategic plan and all other counties should follow suit,” said Sen. Beall. “In the last decade, youth suicide has increased across California and is now the second leading cause of death for adolescents. We need to stop this epidemic and I commend Senator Hurtado’s leadership on this very important issue.”

“California’s counties must act to stem the state’s tragic rise in suicide rates. To do so, they need strategic suicide-prevention plans that focus special attention on children under the age of 19,” stated Maggie Merritt, Executive Director of the Steinberg Institute. Merritt continued by stating that “a handful of counties have taken the initiative to develop such plans on their own, but it is too important to wait on the others to follow suit, so state must show the way.”

About Senator Melissa Hurtado

Senator Melissa Hurtado is an advocate for expanding access to health care and clean water, growing educational opportunities and creating more quality jobs. She represents the 14th Senate District in California, which includes cities in Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties. Senator Hurtado was born in Fresno, California and was raised in the City of Sanger, where she still resides with her family.

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