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Oregon Health Authority says suicide is Oregon's second leading cause of death for those age 10 to 34

OPB PHOTO  - Hailey Hardcastle is shown here. A new piece of legislation will allow Oregon students to take "mental health days" off from school, in the same way they can take physical sick days. It will expand the definition of excused absences in schools, and the high school students who propelled the bill through the legislature hope it will take steps toward improving mental health in Oregon.

House Bill 2191 was born out of a brainstorming workshop at the Oregon Association of Student Councils. It's the first legislation of its kind in the United States. Before HB 2191, students could only have an excused absence for their own or a family member's physical illness, doctor or dentist appointments, or an emergency. Students in Oregon are allowed up to five excused absences within a three-month period.

Hailey Hardcastle, a Sherwood High School graduate and incoming freshman at the University of Oregon, was one of the students who helped transform the idea into a piece of legislation. She told OPB's "Think Out Loud" she was partly inspired by mental health issues she saw at her own high school and the impact of suicide in Oregon schools.

"There's not a single one of my peers that I know that haven't been affected by mental health," Hardcastle said.

Hardcastle hopes that this legislation will open up a conversation and destigmatize mental illness.

Click here for the rest of the story by Oregon Public Broadcasting, a news partner of the Portland Tribune.

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