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Arizona advocate pushes schools to put suicide hotline on ID cards

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PHOENIX — At least five schools districts in Pinal County have added the National Suicide Prevention Hotline to the back of their student ID cards.

Activist Braden Biggs is working with Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman to expand the initiative and eventually make it a statewide policy.

“We shun away as a society from having conversations geared around suicide or youth problems because we maybe don’t understand them as adults, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less valid,” Biggs told KTAR News 92.3 FM last week.

For Biggs, the issue is personal. In 2012, he lost his brother to suicide. His loss sparked his drive to prevent other families from dealing with the same situation.

“If this number on the back of an ID card can save one life, I think it’s worth every dollar that could potentially be spent to make this happen,” Biggs said. “No family should have to go through what my family has gone through.”

Biggs said companies that print student ID cards can add the suicide prevention hotline number to the back of the cards for no additional cost. He’s currently working with districts in Pinal County to spread the idea.

Biggs also mentioned they’re working to adapt the concept for all ages.

“Even though all schools’ students have an ID card, we don’t want to put it on the back of the elementary school ID card for the younger generation because they don’t fully understand that, so we’re working on having different types of conversations with them than we are with those middle school and high school age kids,” Biggs said.

Biggs said he’s working with Hoffman and Pinal County Superintendent Jill Broussard to push the policies through this year.

“Our kids’ lives are at stake,” Biggs said. “I don’t think it’s a political issue, it’s a human rights issue.”

If Arizona is able to pass legislation to mandate this, it would follow in the footsteps of California who passed a law in July that requires private, public and charter schools to print the number on student ID cards for students in seventh through 12th grades.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.

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