COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — When students return to South Carolina classrooms this fall, their identification cards will have information about mental-health resources printed on them.
The Student Identification Card Suicide Prevention Act signed by Gov. Henry McMaster went into effect on July 1. It requires all school-issued ID cards for middle school students or older to have the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number printed on them.
The legislation also applies to higher education, and schools are required to include at least one other resource, like the Crisis Text Line. Some schools began phasing in the new IDs last school year.
Officials with the state Department of Mental Health said the goal is to normalize seeking help.
“It gives them that validation that life is hard, and there are times where we need to reach out to people,” said Jessica Barnes, program manager for the Office of Suicide Prevention.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for South Carolinians between the ages of 10 and 24, according to Barnes.
Bill Lindsey, the executive director for the South Carolina chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said reminding students of mental health resources is crucial.
“It’s significant, coming in a time when we’ve been in the middle of a mental health crisis,” he said. “Coming out of the pandemic is one thing, but also everything else in general. The pandemic just exacerbated that.”
Both Barnes and Lindsey agreed that these aren’t just numbers printed on a card. It’s a way to help those who might be struggling.
“Having that number right there and knowing there is someone who can help. I think that’s huge,” Lindsey said.
In addition, officials recently announced that the new 988 national suicide prevention hotline will be operational starting July 16. Officials estimate call volume will increase.
In the meantime, anyone who is having suicidal thoughts can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.