Newtown, CT – Suicide has been the second-leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10 and 24 since 2010. This, coupled with other senseless deaths due to school shootings or other acts of violence in schools, point to serious public health issues. Youth suicide and violence against others is preventable, given that 70 percent of those who die by suicide tell someone of their plans or demonstrate warning signs and 80 percent of school shooters tell someone of their plans prior to acting. Yet, too many youth and adults are unaware of the warning signs and signals to look for, ways of assessing threats when they present themselves, and how to properly intervene before a tragedy can occur.
Sandy Hook Promise praises U.S. Congressmen Scott Peters (D-CA-52) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12) for introducing the Suicide and Threat Assessment Nationally Dedicated to Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act of 2019 ensure our nation’s students and schools have suicide and threat assessment training to stop tragedies before they happen. This legislation is also supported by Congressmen Ted Deutch (D-FL-19) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01).
“The rates of youth suicide and violence occurring in our country’s schools are appalling. We know that with proper training and threat assessment teams embedded in schools that self-harm, violence, and suicide can be preventable. We are proud to partner with these bipartisan champions to pass this critical legislation to ensure that more youth and adults ‘know the signs’ to properly intervene before a tragedy can occur and we urge Congress to pass this bill,” 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.
Today’s introduction of the bipartisan STANDUP Act is a crucial step in curbing these suicide rates and making our schools safer, overall. If passed, the bill would encourage select states to expand access to evidence-based suicide prevention training to every student in grades 6 through 12 and train schools in proven school threat assessment models that provide guidelines for threat identification, triage, and intervention, as well as established procedures and protocols for coordinating with local law enforcement.
“Gun violence and suicide are public health crises in our country. A whole generation of children are now afraid to go to school and think mass school shootings are the norm. We need only to look at the pictures from Colorado yesterday to understand that we must prioritize early prevention, heed warning signs, and give educators and administrators the tools to stop violence before it happens. This bipartisan bill, with the support of Sandy Hook Promise, takes a commonsense, evidence-based approach to address the root problems our students face that can turn them to violence and suicide,” said Rep. Peters.
“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. Sadly, some communities in my district are among those with the highest suicide rates in our state. With training like this, we can help reverse that troubling trend,” said Rep. Bilirakis.
“Especially among children and young adults, gun violence against others or themselves are at heart-wrenching levels in our country. But this public health crisis is preventable. We know that often the warning signs are there; we just need to be trained to identify them and react appropriately. This bipartisan bill would help teachers and administrators catch those warning signs and intervene before gun violence tragedies occur,” said Rep. Deutch.
“One of the keys to preventing school violence is equipping students, teachers, and administrators with the skills they need to properly react to threats before a tragedy can occur,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “By addressing suicidal and violent behavior, the bipartisan STANDUP Act would give school districts the tools needed to protect our nation’s kids through swift and appropriate intervention.”
According to a CDC study, more than 17 percent of youth in the U.S. seriously considered attempting suicide and another 14 percent went as far as making a suicide plan between 2016 and 2017. Research has shown that evidence-based suicide prevention programs and school threat assessment teams have been effective in reducing suicide, interpersonal violence, bullying, and aggression, and have lowered expulsion and suspension rates.
Three of Sandy Hook Promise’s evidence-informed Know the Signs violence prevention programs — Say Something, Signs of Suicide, and Safety Assessment and Intervention — have helped avert multiple school shooting plots, teen suicides, and countless other acts of violence. These programs, among others, would meet the STANDUP Act requirements for states.
At least 20 states currently have laws in place that mandate some manner of suicide prevention training for students or staff. Evidence-based school threat assessment teams have also been shown to increase the willingness of students to seek help for threats of violence and mental illness, reinforcing the potential effectiveness of pairing these life-saving programs.
About Sandy Hook Promise: Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut 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. SHP’s mission is to prevent gun violence (and other forms of violence and victimization) BEFORE it can happen by educating and mobilizing youth and adults to identify, intervene, and get help for at-risk individuals. 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. For more information, visit www.sandyhookpromise.org or call 203-304-9780.
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