Riley McCarthy Chart, a student at Culver City High School, took his own life on the evening of September 16th 2020, aged 16. Riley, who identified as transgender, exhibited no signs of intent to commit self-harm the night he died.
In 2019, one in five high school kids reported feeling suicidal at some point during the previous year. We don’t know the full impact that COVID isolation has had on mental health, but we do know that calls to suicide hotlines have doubled in 2020.
Children are heading back to school soon, and our teachers will be on the front line of recognizing what our children are dealing with. Both kids and teachers are going to need as much help and support as possible.
Luckily there is a program already in place that could help address this problem; it’s just not been fully implemented.
Bill 2246, (Chapter 642, Statutes of 2016) mandates that the Governing Board of any local educational agency serving pupils in grades seven to twelve must provide pupil suicide prevention, intervention, and post-vention training for all school staff members and other adults on campus, including substitutes, intermittent staff, volunteers, interns, tutors, coaches, and expanded learning and [afterschool] staff.
In short, funds and guidance for suicide awareness training for our teachers is available to all 250 + LA high schools, but such programs have rarely been fully implemented or taken advantage of. With the extra demands of returning to the classroom safely after Covid, our teachers will need more resources and skills than ever before, and Riley’s Foundation aims to heighten awareness of this Bill, and encourage both parents and teachers to actively participate in such programs to help build a safer future for our kids during an unprecedented time for us all.
Please visit RileyChart.com and support the Riley Chart Memorial Fund for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and The Trevor Project, both leaders in suicide prevention.