SACRAMENTO, Calif. — An audit conducted by the California State Auditor Elaine M. Howle, has shown light on youth suicide prevention. This audit was requested by Assemblymember Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, because of the recent increases in youth suicide in California.
The audit uncovered the lack of funding for mental health professionals at schools and also discovered that local education agencies don't have adequate youth suicide prevention policies and training for staff.
In California, the annual number of suicides of youth ages 12 to 19 increased by 15% from 2009 to 2018.
“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 Salas. “The State Auditor’s report reaffirms the need for action on the state and local level to better improve suicide prevention efforts. Schools and teachers are on the front lines of suicide prevention and we need to make sure they have the appropriate training and mental health resources to protect our students and prevent future tragedies.”
In 2016, the Legislature passed Assembly Bill (AB) 2246 — that made it a requirement for LEAs that serve students in grades 7 to 12 to adopt suicide prevention policies.
However, the six LEAs that the Auditor reviewed had not adopted policies and training that fully address suicide prevention efforts and best practices.
The Department of Education, Public Health, and local LEAs have stated that they will implement the recommendations of the State Auditor to seek additional funding to provide mental health services and update policies to improve suicide prevention efforts.