New school IDs feature Suicide Prevention Crisis Lifeline


Addie Gleason

The Suicide Prevention Crisis Lifeline receives calls from across the country to help those in crisis. This year, school IDs included the lifeline number above the barcode. “Putting the numbers on the card is helpful to an extent. I personally never use my ID — I didn’t even notice there was a number on there for suicide prevention — and if I had to call the suicide hotline, I’d just search the number on my phone [rather] than look for the number on the card,” Mental Health Club president Rachel Bhagat said.

As school IDs were passed out Oct. 14 during AcLab, eyes fell upon a new line added above the barcodes. “Suicide Prevention Crisis Lifeline; Call or Text 988.”

Noticing an increase in teen suicide rates through recent years, U.S. legislators decided to add this line in order to make students aware of the resources available to them and aid in suicide prevention. In Missouri, this bill — Senate Bill No. 515 — also details that schools may print a local suicide prevention hotline number and the Crisis Text Line number. This year, Wagner Portrait Group included this required line on school IDs.

“It’s a good idea; anything that the school or district does to try and call attention to student mental health or resources they can use is worthwhile. I’m in favor of putting that information in students’ hands as much as possible,” social studies teacher Mel Trotier said. “It’s interesting that it’s a law. It’s just curious that we would have to pass a law to make that happen; it’s sad we have to force people to take care of stuff like that.”

On July 16, 2022, the Suicide Prevention Crisis Lifeline fully transitioned from the previous 10-digit number to the shorter 988 number in the U.S. and its territories. Following this change, Missouri crisis centers noted a 50% increase in calls.

“The number is helpful for students because it lets them know they can reach out for help,” Mental Health Club president and senior Rachel Bhagat said. “I can’t speak for suicide call centers, but I would assume they’d be able to give everyone needed resources so that they don’t take their life. I also think more can be done to help people with mental health struggles before they reach the point of suicide.”

However, a New York Times data analysis revealed that 18% of phone calls to the lifeline were abandoned before the caller received help. In addition, various people have expressed concern over the ability of crisis centers to handle the number of calls received and the district’s strategies to advertise the new IDs.

“I wish the district would have said something about it instead of just passing out the IDs. I don’t know how many students are necessarily aware that it’s there unless it’s by word of mouth. I would hope that someplace out there, the district put on the homepage or made an announcement somewhere that I missed, that [said] ‘if you notice on your IDs, there’s a hotline number here. If you ever need any help, call the hotline.’ But again, anything that we can do as a school community to let students know there’s a resource is time well spent,” Trotier said.