The Kim Foundation commends Senator Crawford for introducing LB1001. While it is not a comprehensive solution to suicide prevention, it could certainly be a positive contribution to saving lives in our community. In the last three years, in the Omaha Metro Area alone, we have lost 19 youth ages 10-19 to suicide. This bill is a very simple solution to potentially prevent some of those deaths and provide a life saving resource for Nebraska youth when they may be in a time of crisis.
The bill seeks to place the National Suicide Lifeline on all student identification cards in middle and high schools, as well as post-secondary institutions receiving state funding. Schools are currently producing student identification cards for any student enrolled in their school. Because of this, this legislation does not add a financial burden to these institutions, and it makes efficient use of an already existing resource to put lifesaving information in their hands. Students carry their identification cards on them much of the time whether in their wallet, purse, computer or tablet sleeve, or on their persons in another fashion. Having the Suicide Prevention Lifeline readily available can prove life saving in a time of crisis.
Here at the foundation we work with more than a dozen school districts through our mission of serving as a supportive resource and compassionate voice for lives touched by mental illness and suicide. Each of them is hungry for more resources and information to better equip their school communities and save the lives of their students. LB1001 is a simple, efficient and convenient way to help them do this.
Suicide is a significant public health problem in our state, as well as the nation. However, much research exists that many suicides can be prevented through a variety of initiatives . . . specifically training, and empowering people to know the warning signs to look for and providing access to crisis resources for those in need. We continue to teach students to reach out and speak up if they or someone they care about is struggling. By putting the Suicide Lifeline on the student identification card, we provide them the resources to do this and potentially save a life. In calling the lifeline students have 24-hour access, 7 days a week, to a trained crisis counselor who can help them through their immediate crisis, and even call law enforcement if necessary.
Our neighbors to the east, Iowa, recently passed this legislation out of committee, as has Wisconsin. California and Louisiana have already passed the legislation to implement in their school districts. Nebraska has an opportunity to join these states and lead the way in prioritizing the safety and lives of our students.
Julia Hebenstreit, Executive Director of The Kim Foundation
Julia Hebenstreit is the Executive Director of The Kim Foundation. She received her J.D. from Creighton University in 2005, and her BS in Journalism from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2002. She has been with The Kim Foundation since 2011, and prior to that worked for local non-profits doing development, strategic planning, communications and advancement. She has a passion for helping people and improving lives, and serves on the Executive Committee for Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations, as the 2015 Hill Day State Captain for the state of Nebraska, and as an active member of the Nebraska Suicide Prevention Coalition, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, BHECN Advisory Committee, RESPECT Advisory Board, Connections Advisory Board and the Project Propel Planning Group.