Brown vetoes bill requiring districts to look at connection between zero tolerance policies and suicide

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On Monday Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would require districts, when adopting suicide prevention policies, to consider whether zero tolerance policies for alcohol and drugs prevent students from seeking treatment for substance abuse and mental health disorders.

“I agree with the goal of this bill but believe this is a matter more appropriately handled at the local level,” Brown said in a statement.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1261 was introduced by Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) after he learned of a suicide cluster in Clovis, Calif., according to the Palo Alto Weekly.

The bill added to a current state law that requires school districts that serve students in 7th to 12th grade to develop suicide prevention policies for high-risk youth.

AB 1261, which would have implemented a state-mandated local program, cited research that stated that mental illness and substance abuse disorders are known risk factors for suicide.

“According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a diagnosis of alcohol misuse or dependence is associated with a suicide risk that is 10 times greater than the suicide risk in the general population, and individuals who inject drugs are at about 14 times greater risk for suicide,” the bill read.

The bill passed with no opposition in the California Assembly and California Senate.

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