NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Starting in the fall, any school district in Tennessee that offers students identification cards will also have a vital mental health resource as well.
Beginning July 1, any school identification cards will have to contain the new suicide and crisis hotline number 988 offered on the back of them, thanks to a law passed by the General Assembly earlier this year. The law is an expansion of the “Save Tennessee Students Act,” which required school districts issuing new student ID cards for sixth through 12th grade students to include information about suicide prevention and mental health resources on those cards. The law was initially passed in 2022 and took effect for the current school year.
The expanded version also requires all higher education institutions to develop and implement a suicide prevention plan for students, faculty and staff. The plans must utilize campus mental health professionals and suicide prevention experts in their development and identify procedures related to suicide prevention, intervention and postvention, according to the law.
The plan must also include a strategy to raise awareness of the mental health and crisis support services and resources available, such as the 988 suicide and crisis hotline.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline switched from its previous 1-800 number to the three-digit 988, making it easier to remember for those in crisis who need help and want to reach out for it.
In the first six months of implementation, data from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services said more than 21,000 calls to 988 had been made in Tennessee, and more than 10,000 text messages were sent to it.
Less than 2% of those calls and texts required law enforcement intervention, according to the state’s data.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a prevention network of 161 crisis centers that provides a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. If you or someone you know needs support now, call or text 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org.