Youth Suicide Prevention Legislation to Save Lives During Pandemic and Beyond
Newtown, CT — Today, the House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee took a big step forward to empower students to prevent youth suicide by voting to advance the Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act of 2020 by a unanimous, bi-partisan vote. If passed into law, the bill would encourage states to expand access to evidence-based suicide prevention training to students in grades 6 through 12.
Sandy Hook Promise praises U.S. Members of Congress Scott Peters (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) for championing this life-saving legislation.
“Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for youth — and CDC research shows suicidal ideation at an all-time high during the pandemic, with as many as one in four kids having suicidal thoughts. It’s more important than ever to invest in suicide prevention training for our students,” 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 are proud to partner with these bipartisan champions to ensure that more youth and adults ‘know the signs’ to properly intervene before a tragedy can occur and we urge more elected officials to co-sponsor this important legislation.”
The advancement of this bill comes during National Suicide Prevention Week in a year where the COVID-19 pandemic is already impacting youth mental wellness. Recent data from Mental Health America shows that youth ages 11-17 are disproportionately experiencing severe depression and anxiety, making legislation like the STANDUP Act even more critical.
“During National Suicide Prevention Week, we recognize how the bipartisan STANDUP Act can save lives,” said Rep. Peters. “Students across the country are starting the new school year under uniquely difficult circumstances, and COVID-19 has exacerbated the mental health risks that can lead to suicide. The STANDUP Act promotes youth mental health awareness among schools and communities to prevent violence and suicide.”
“Keeping our children safe are two of my highest priorities. I’ve personally witnessed how effective programs save lives. By providing high quality screening and prevention training to school staff and peers, we can identify threats before they materialize, and ensure that those who are at risk get the mental health treatment they need. Sadly, some communities in my district are among those with the highest suicide rates in our state. With measures like this, we can help reverse that troubling trend,” said Rep. Bilirakis. “Consideration of this bill could not come at a more pressing time. The pandemic and resulting economic downturn have impacted the mental health and well-being of many Americans. It is vital that we ensure access to appropriate tools to assist those in need. I urge my colleagues to join me in expediting final approval of this urgent legislation.”
In June, Arriana Gross, a high school junior in Covington, Georgia and a Sandy Hook Promise Youth Advisory Board member, spoke to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee during a hearing on mental health about the importance of addressing teen suicide and mental wellness. In her testimony, Arriana asked the Committee to advance the STANDUP Act as well as the Mental Health Services for Students Act (H.R. 1109), which was also approved by the Committee today. Like the STANDUP Act, the Mental Health Services for Students Act would support student mental wellness by increasing access to school-based mental health services, including screening, treatment, and outreach programs.
About Sandy Hook Promise: Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut. SHP is led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. SHP’s mission is to create a culture engaged in preventing shootings, violence, and other harmful acts in schools. Through its proven Know the Signs programs, SHP educates and empowers youth and adults to recognize, intervene, and get help for individuals who may be socially isolated and/or at risk of hurting themselves or others. SHP is a moderate, above-the-politics organization that supports sensible program and policy solutions that address the “human side” of gun violence by preventing individuals from ever getting to the point of picking up a firearm to hurt themselves or others. Our words, actions, and impact nationwide are intended to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation.
Aimee Thunberg | [email protected] | 646-761-5579