Recently, the neighboring Pennridge School District released the results of an anonymous survey taken by its students, which revealed 40 individuals from the class of 2020 had attempted suicide one or more times in the previous years. They also reported an increase in suicide attempts from 3% to 4% among the district’s sixth graders. Within the last year, an eighth-grader attending a middle school in my own district sadly took his own life.
Traditionally, mental health in schools has been focused around high school students. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 15-34. However, after taking a look at the disturbing data collected by the Pennridge School District, we find that we have reached a critical point in time when children as young as 6th grade are seeing suicide as their only option. Anti-bullying efforts have been strong and influential, but we need to tackle this issue from every angle.
That is why Rep. Malcom Kenyatta, Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia/Delaware) and I have introduced House Bill 1622, Phillip’s Law. This bill will require the Department of Education to investigate and report on the number and type of mental health professionals needed to meet the nationally accepted standards. This review would be for Kindergarten through 12th Grade.
As a member of the Governor’s Suicide Prevention Task Force, my colleagues and I will continue our efforts by developing solutions to address this growing problem.
State Representative Wendi Thomas (178th District), 1038 2nd Street Pike, Suite 101, Richboro 18954. 215-364-3414