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Youth Suicide Prevention Becomes A National Priority

Sandy Hook Promise’s Bipartisan STANDUP Act Passes the U.S. Senate 

Newtown, CT — Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to pass Sandy Hook Promise’s bipartisan Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act. This legislation will help expand access to evidence-based suicide prevention training for students in grades 6 through 12 nationwide, at a time when youth are reporting suicidal thoughts at record levels. The next step is bill reconciliation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Efforts to address the rising suicide rates among our youth have never been more urgent. Suicide has become the second-leading cause of death among teenagers in the U.S. By encouraging more schools to offer suicide prevention training, we can empower youth and give them the tools they need to help address this epidemic.

“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 in making this life-saving legislation possible.”

“The number of young lives taken too soon by suicide is heartbreaking, and I know that far too many communities in New Hampshire have felt the pain of these losses,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “The Senate took an important step yesterday to prevent youth suicide by passing our bipartisan bill to help schools and communities implement programs to reduce the risk of suicide, and I urge the Congress to get this bill across the finish line.”

“As a mom, it’s heartbreaking to see the rates of youth suicide continue to rise across the country. We need to do all we can to raise awareness and prevent these tragic deaths,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “I’m glad to see my bipartisan effort to increase access to evidence-based suicide prevention programs in schools nationwide pass the Senate. We must continue working across the aisle to get this important bill signed into law.”

Student activism was also instrumental in gaining passage of this important legislation. 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 our school, a year doesn’t go by without a student dying by suicide,” she told committee members.  “I’m concerned that youth suicide has become so common that our nation is stuck in a pattern of mourning, and accepting these deaths as something that’s normal, instead of seeing them as preventable and tragic.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating mental health challenges for young people. 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.

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. The trend for children aged 10-14 is particularly disturbing, with the number having nearly tripled since 2007.


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 levels 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