When I was 12, I had just started middle school. I had my first eight-period schedule, first school dance and many other firsts. I also had my first lockdown — and it was chaos. My school didn’t text their students, call parents or explain what had happened after the event passed. It was only through friends and the news that I found out what had actually forced the school into a lockdown.

My largest issue with the lockdown isn’t the trauma of being nearly killed. It is the way my school dealt with it afterward. No assembly or announcements were made, and the problem went unaddressed. No one talked about it, but the best way to work through problems is to talk.

Utah House Bill 81 would help reinforce and provide a safe space for talking by providing support for counselors. Counselors have been proven effective to help students. Suicide rates have been a lot lower after counselors were provided.

However, schools are so understaffed that nearly 850,000 students in the U.S. don’t have access to a counselor at all. This issue cannot be ignored — seeing as suicide rates in Utah are the fifth highest in the U.S. and rates are still rising. The futures of students and communities are shaped by counselors, too.

HB81 aims to better communities by helping students, so it needs to be supported and passed into law. Calling, texting and emailing legislators is the first step to recognizing and confronting this counselor crisis.

Malia Hansen, South Jordan