A new bill requiring school districts to adopt plans and policies to prevent youth suicide passed in both houses of the Legislature last week and now goes to Gov. Kate Brown to become law.
The legislation requires the State Board of Education to adopt rules to guide district planning, with input from the Oregon Health Authority. School districts may also utilize suicide prevention experts, as well as school employees, parents and others to help develop their suicide prevention plans and policies.
Adi’s parents, Lon and Christine Staub, were present for the bill’s passage on Friday and have been involved with the proposal throughout the legislative process. During a hearing on SB 52 in February, Christine said her daughter had once written a school paper that was clearly a cry for help, in which she disclosed self-destructive thoughts and even said she feared for her future safety.
According to the Oregon Health Authority, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24 in Oregon. Teenagers face ever-increasing levels of social pressure, whether from social media, school, or trauma at home.
Transgender youth like Adi are particularly at risk. Tragically, studies show more than half of transgender male teens have attempted suicide in their lifetime, as have 30 percent of transgender female teens and 42 percent of non-binary youth.
Rep. Courtney Neron, a former teacher from Wilsonville, said she has seen students’ struggles firsthand.
“I have worried for the safety of my students when they left my classroom at the end of class, desperately hoping that they would all return,” Rep. Neron said. “I knew that some of my students were not getting emotional support at home, which is why it is so important for schools to get best practices for policies and plans to prevent, intervene, and work through the aftermath of a death by suicide.”