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Youth Suicide Prevention Legislation Clears Final Hurdle and Heads to President’s Desk to Become Law

Newtown, CT – Sandy Hook Promise applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for unanimously passing legislation last night to ensure thousands of students nationwide receive suicide prevention training.

The Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act of 2021 could not come at a better time, as suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for youth between 10 and 24. The Act expands access to evidence-based suicide prevention training for students in grades 6 through 12 nationwide.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated already alarming trends. Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health. This was followed by a December 2021 U.S. Surgeon General Advisory calling for a unified response to the mental health challenges facing young people.

“The more schools that offer suicide prevention training, the more we can empower youth to help themselves and their peers,” said Mark Barden, co-founder, and CEO of the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. “I am grateful to U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) along with U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Scott Peters (D-CA) for championing this important, life-saving legislation. Because of their staunch support, countless youth who are suffering in the shadows may finally get the help they need.”

The legislation also passed the U.S. Senate unanimously in December and now heads to President Biden for his signature into U.S. law.

“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,” said Congressman Bilirakis.  “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. By sending the STANDUP Act to the President for signature, we can better implement this training and begin to reverse these troubling trends of youth suicide and violence.” 

“Among the alarming mental health challenges facing the nation’s youth, recent trends in suicidal ideation, self-harm, and violence are cause for particular concern. The good news is that our STANDUP Act, once signed into law, will help equip students and educators with skills necessary to identify, intervene, and get help for those at risk of harming themselves or others,” said Rep. Peters. “I want to thank my congressional partners – Representative Bilirakis and Senators Hassan and Ernst – and Sandy Hook Promise, who helped push this life-saving effort across the finish line. We all want our kids to have a safe, inclusive learning community and know this legislation will help achieve that goal.”

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.”

To date, nearly 15 million people nationwide have participated in Sandy Hook Promise’s proven Know the Signs programs. Through these no-cost programs, Sandy Hook Promise has averted multiple school shooting plots, hundreds of teen suicides, and countless other acts of violence.

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