Audit to Address Youth Suicide Launched by Assemblymember Salas
SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, presented an audit request before the committee regarding suicide prevention for young people. The committee unanimously approved this audit that will identify local education agencies and charter schools’ best practices for suicide prevention plans as well as looking at the role of the California Department of Public Health in addressing this issue.
In California and throughout the nation, the suicide rate among young people has increased significantly. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, suicide rates for those aged 10 to 14 have increased by 225 percent from 1991 to 2017. Between 2016 and 2017, the national suicide for boys aged 15-19 increased by 21 percent. For girls, the rate increased by 8 percent. In California, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 15-24. In Kern County, young people’s suicide rate is now at an all-time high.
“Any time a young person takes their own life, it is an absolute tragedy that weighs heavily on family, friends, student peers, teachers, and the community as a whole,” said Assemblymember Salas. “As we take a look at what factors are causing this rise in suicides, it is critical that we improve suicide prevention efforts. As the Chair of the audit committee, I believe it is important to look at what our schools are doing to prevent suicides. Schools and teachers are on the front lines of suicide prevention and we need to make sure they have the appropriate resources, training and tools to help protect our students and prevent future tragedies.”
According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, warning signs of depression and possible suicide ideation can be vague, especially during the teenage years, when it is often normal to go through phases of moodiness and withdrawal. Experts note that serious mental health problems can manifest themselves differently from person to person.
"I think what you’re seeing is a reflection of an incredibly stressed out group of kids,” said Jonathan Singer, president of the American Association of Suicidology, a nonprofit that advocates for suicide prevention. “One of the best things to do is make sure that kids are surrounded by adults who can monitor them, who know them, both online and offline, and who are thinking, 'How do I know when this kid is doing well, and how do I recognize signs of distress?'"
The Audit Committee also approved four other audit requests regarding various governmental agencies. The approved audits included a request from Assemblymember Rubio to audit the Board of Registered Nursing, a request from Assemblymember Quirk to audit the California Department of Food and Agriculture and a request from Assemblymember Gloria to audit the San Diego Air Pollution Control District.
Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Hanford, Corcoran, Delano, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Avenal, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.