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Sandy Hook Promise Applauds Bipartisan Introduction of the STANDUP Act in the U.S. Senate

Youth Suicide Prevention Legislation Comes As Mental Health Challenges Increase

Newtown, CT — Today, on Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, Sandy Hook Promise celebrates the bipartisan introduction of the Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act in the U.S. Senate. If passed into law, the bill would help expand access to evidence-based suicide prevention training for students in grades 6 through 12 nationwide.   

Sandy Hook Promise praises U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) for championing this life-saving legislation.

“Suicidal thoughts are on the rise — on top of suicide already being the second-leading cause of death for young people — with so many students having become more socially isolated, stressed, and lonely than ever before. It’s critically important that kids know what to do when they need help or see a friend in crisis,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. “We thank Senators Hassan and Ernst for their leadership and urge more elected officials to act fast to save lives. Millions of students nationwide are counting on you.” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since 2010, suicide has been the second-leading cause of death for young Americans ages 10-24, and the trend for children aged 10-14 is particularly disturbing, with the number having nearly tripled since 2007. Unfortunately, there are early indicators that the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating mental health challenges for young people. Recent data from Mental Health America finds youth aged 11-17 disproportionately experiencing severe depression and anxiety, including a 10% increase in screening for depression and a 14% increase in screening for anxiety.

“The prevalence of youth suicide is heartbreaking, and amid significant mental health challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more crucial than ever that we work together to address this issue,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “This bill would provide vital support to young people by helping implement evidence-based policies to reduce the risk of suicide. I am glad to work on a bipartisan basis with Senator Ernst on this issue, and I urge the Senate to pass this much-needed bill.”

“In 2019 one out of every five high school students in Iowa considered suicide. As a mom, this is a truly heartbreaking statistic, and we need to do more to raise awareness and prevent these tragic deaths. That’s why I’m working with Democrats and Republicans to ensure that state and local educational agencies that receive federal grants for mental health support implement evidence-based suicide prevention and awareness programs,” said Senator Joni Ernst.

In June 2020, Arriana Gross, a high school junior in Covington, Georgia, and a Sandy Hook Promise Youth Advisory Board member, testified during the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on mental health about the importance of addressing teen suicide and mental wellness. In her testimony, Arriana asked the Committee to advance legislation like the STANDUP Act that supports student mental wellness and suicide prevention.


About the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund 

Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization committed to protecting all children from gun violence in schools, homes, and communities. The SHP Action Fund champions a holistic policy platform that promotes gun safety, youth mental health, and violence prevention education. The organization works at the state and federal level to pass nonpartisan legislation through inclusive partnerships, diverse grassroots education, and community mobilization. It is part of Sandy Hook Promise, founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Learn more at

Media Contact: 

Aimee Thunberg, Senior Director, Communications, Sandy Hook Promise | [email protected] | 646-761-5579