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Schatz Introduces Legislation To Prevent Youth Suicide

Bill Funds Initiatives To Support Suicide Prevention, Train Medical Professionals In Suicide Prevention And Lethal Means Safety

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) today introduced legislation to prevent youth suicide, the second leading cause of death for people aged 10-24. The Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act would fund suicide prevention initiatives, ensure health care providers receive training to prevent intentional harm, and create a centralized hub to provide safety information to at-risk youth and their support networks.

“Youth suicide is a crisis in Hawai‘i and across America, and we need to do everything we can to get young people help when they need it,” said Senator Schatz. “This bill provides important training and resources to medical professionals who will be able to deliver timely help and prevent these tragedies.”

Specifically, the Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act would:

  • Establish a grant program to provide funding for initiatives that offer youth suicide prevention and lethal means safety education, training, and resources to health care professionals;
  • Establish a grant program to integrate lethal means safety and suicide prevention topics into curricula at health professional schools to ensure that future nurses, doctors, and mental and behavioral health care providers have received the education and training that will allow them to prevent lethal means injuries, deaths, and suicides among their patients; and
  • Create a centralized hub to provide important lethal means safety and suicide prevention information to at-risk youth and their family members, health professional schools, and health care providers.

The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) and Kim Schrier (D-Wash.).

Suicide rates among young Americans increased by 52 percent between 2000 and 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A June 2021 CDC report found a significant increase in emergency department visits for suicide attempts among adolescents aged 12-17 during the pandemic, including a spike of more than 50 percent among adolescent girls. A critical opportunity to identify young people at risk is in health care settings, but many health care professionals lack the training or resources to do so. This bill prepares health care professionals to identify and respond to warning signs by training them in evidence-based suicide prevention practices like lethal means safety, a practice limiting access to objects that can be used for self-directed violence, and providing funding to connect at-risk patients with crisis resources.

The Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act is supported by more than 30 organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, American Public Health Association, American Hospital Association, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Academy of Family Physicians, Federation of American Hospitals, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, SMART Recovery, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Illinois Association for Behavioral Health, PA Education Association, Association for Behavioral & Cognitive Therapies, Newtown Action Alliance Foundation, National Association of Social Workers, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Brady: United Against Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, Sandy Hook Promise, Illinois Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics, Doc Wayne, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, March for Our Lives, Active Minds, Giffords, Council of Public Health Nursing Organizations, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, American Public Health Association – Public Health Nursing Section, Association of Community Health Nursing Educators, Association of Public Health Nurses, National Association of School Nurses, Rural Nurse Organization, and National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.

The full text of the legislation is available here.