As Principals are planning for student ID cards for the upcoming 2021-22 school year, be aware that, beginning this school year, schools need to ensure that student IDs have a suicide prevention hotline number printed on them. Specifically, beginning on October 15, 2021, school districts "shall ensure that each school...that offers any of grades 6 to 12 and that provides identification cards to pupils...includes on each identification card...a local, state, or national suicide prevention hotline telephone number printed on it."
The law (MCL 380.1893) passed in the middle of fall semester 2020, so don't feel bad if this is news to you (there were a few things going on back then). Still, now is the time to check and see what options you have for adding this information to your student ID cards.
Here's a breakdown of the details of the new law:
- Beginning on October 15, 2021, schools "shall ensure" that ALL IDs provided to students have a a local, state, or national suicide prevention hotline telephone number printed on them.
- You can use any hotline number provided it "can be accessed for use 24 hours of each day and 7 days of each week."
- The law applies to all student IDs issued in school buildings that offer any of grades 6-12.
- The law only applies if your building provides student IDs. If you do not provide student IDs, this does not apply to you. If you only provide IDs to some students, the requirement only applies to those IDs you normally provide (i.e. you don't have to provide IDs to students who wouldn't normally get one).
- The law expressly indemnifies schools and school employees from any criminal or civil action as a result of their failing to include a suicide prevention hotline number of school IDs. So if something happens and the IDs don't get printed properly, you're not going to get hauled into court over it. But we do recommend you have a plan for fixing the problem (see the bullet below about stickers).
- This same law (MCL 380.1893) also encourages – but does not require – schools to post on their website and/or displace around the school or near the counselor's office, information on suicide prevention developed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Some practical considerations:
- The safest way to read the requirement is that it applies to ALL IDs beginning on October 15, 2021, not just new ID printed after that date. In other words, you should have a plan for ensuring all your student IDs have a suicide hotline number printed on them for this upcoming school year. Additionally, you'll want to make sure any new IDs you print after the deadline (say, when a student inevitably loses one), have a hotline number as well. MASSP has heard that there is some debate about this point and we acknowledge that the language of the law is squishy (technical term), but we reached out to two different school law firms and both supported our interpretation.
- Adding a sticker to the back of the ID is a perfectly acceptable solution to this requirement. So if you have a bunch of blank ID cards sitting in a drawer in your school already that don't have a hotline number printed on them, you are good to slap a sticker on the back. The same applies if you have already issued IDs that do not include a hotline number.
- If you get your student IDs through our partners at Lifetouch, you are already covered since they are planning to include this information on all their ID cards this school year (see the sample images above). Other vendors may also offer the option to add a suicide hotline to your ID cards, so contact your ID card vendor and ask what they can do to help.
- If you are looking for a suicide prevention hotline number to use, the MDHHS materials listed above refer people to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).