BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — State Assemblyman James Ramos is calling for a statewide office for suicide prevention. State officials and activists had a Zoom conference to battle a pandemic — but not the kind you can fight with a vaccine.
Suicide is the ninth-leading cause of death in California and numbers are rising during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Just from February to March, suicide hotline calls have increased from 20 calls to 1,800 calls in our district,” said Assemblyman Ramos. “Just from these areas, we see that the need for suicide intervention, suicide prevention and mental health in particular is needed throughout the state of California.”
Ramos is pushing a bill called AB-2112. If it passes, this law will help the state offer resources for mental health.
“The office of suicide prevention would be able to gather that data and for once be able to pinpoint the demographics of where those resources are needed,” said Ramos.
Senator Melissa Hurtado knows suicide prevention is a priority in Kern County. The area had 1,400 suicides in 2018.
“In my district, Fresno County and Kern County have the highest rates of youth suicide,” said Senator Hurtado.
Zofia Trexler is the president of the California Youth Empowerment Network. She graduated high school this year and knows that youth are especially vulnerable. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Americans ages 10 to 34.
“At the time of my suicide attempt, I was a ‘straight A’ student with a healthy social life. But that really didn’t stop me from reaching a place where I thought that giving up was the only way to end my unhappiness. That’s why AB-2112 is so important, ” said Trexler.
Senator Hurtado wants this bill to start a larger effort to support Californians, even after the pandemic.
“It’s something that we’re all going through together. We’re all in this crisis together. But we will overcome it and we will only do it together,” said Hurtado. “But at the same time, we’re not going to stop at this.”
Senator Hurtado and Assemblyman Ramos want to send this bill to Governor Gavin Newsom as soon as possible. They say AB-2112 will provide resources California has never seen.