By: Brittany Flaherty Theis and Harry Hitzeman
By the start of the 2022-2023 school year, identification cards for students in grades 6 through 12, as well as those attending public colleges and universities, must have telephone numbers for suicide prevention and crisis contact information.
On Friday, August 20, Governor Pritzker signed House Bill 1778 into law. Now Public Act 102-0416, the law has become known as the Beyond Charity Law, named after a non-profit organization that was formed by students at Naperville Central High School in an effort to raise mental health awareness.
The law, which takes effect July 1, 2022, amends the School Code to require public high schools and higher education institutions to add contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Crisis Text Line and either Safe2Help Illinois or a local suicide prevention hotline on their student identification cards – if the school district issues student identification cards to its students. The contact information must also be included in the each of the school districts’ student handbooks and student planners, if such planners are custom printed by the school district for distribution to students in any of grades 6 through 12.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected every student in the 2020-2021 school year in some way, creating and exacerbating mental health issues for many pupils. A June 2021 report by the Office for Civil Rights, which is within the U.S. Department of Education, detailed the negative effects of the pandemic on all students.
A study published “Pediatrics,” which is the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, showed an “significantly higher” rate of suicidal ideation of youths ages 11-21 in March 2020 to July 2020 compared to the year before, along with higher rates of suicide attempts in February, March, April, and July 2020 when compared to 2019.
Each day, Whitt Law attorneys see the dedication of school district administrators who work tirelessly to protect the health, safety, and education of students throughout the Illinois. Public Act 102-0416 has been cited as one way to highlight the resources that are available to students who are struggling. The attorneys at Whitt Law LLC are monitoring legislation aimed at addressing the mental health and safety of students. Please contact Senior Attorney Brittany Flaherty Theis with questions regarding Public Act 102-0416.