Sandy Hook Promise Celebrates Passage of Youth Suicide Prevention Legislation by the United States House of Representatives

House of Representatives Votes in Favor of the STANDUP Act (H.R. 586) with Strong Bipartisan Support

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act of 2021 by a vote of 349-74. The bill encourages states to expand access to evidence-based suicide prevention training to students in grades 6 through 12.    

“I can’t think of a better way to recognize Mental Health Awareness Month than the House of Representatives voting to expand access to evidence-based suicide prevention programs for young people. It’s more important than ever to prioritize this kind of training,” 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 deeply grateful to the bipartisan sponsors of the STANDUP Act—Representatives Scott Peters (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)— who championed this life-saving legislation.” 

“By passing the STANDUP Act this Mental Health Awareness Month, we’ve taken action to strengthen the health and safety of our youth,” said Rep. Peters (D-CA). “COVID-19 has taken an enormous toll on the mental well-being of young people. A return to the classroom means that we must prepare schools to meet their students’ growing mental health needs. The STANDUP Act takes a proactive, evidence-based approach by equipping students and educators with the skills they need to identify, intervene, and get help for those at risk of harming themselves or others.” 

“There is no higher priority than keeping our children safe. 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. I’ve seen first-hand how effective these programs can be when I visited a high school in Pinellas which has already implemented these best practices. Sadly, some communities in my district are among those with the highest suicide rates in our state, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. With training like this, we can help reverse that troubling trend,” said Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)

In addition to the STANDUP Act, the House voted in favor of three other suicide prevention bills supported by Sandy Hook Promise to help prevent youth suicide: 

  • Mental Health Services for Students Act (H.R. 721), which would provide funding for public schools across the country to partner with local mental health professionals to establish on-site mental health care services for students; 
  • Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act (H.R. 1324) which would assist emergency departments to develop better suicide risk protocols through the Department of Health and Human Services; and 
  • Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act (H.R. 1475), the first comprehensive federal legislation to address increasing suicide rates and mental health disorders among Black youth by providing grants for culturally appropriate mental health services in schools and community settings. 

In June 2020, 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. 

Last week, Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate, where it awaits further consideration. 

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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.

Media Contact:  

Aimee Thunberg | [email protected] | 646-761-5579