Matsui Leads Bipartisan Suicide Prevention Efforts

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WASHINGTON, D.C., January 15, 2020 | Kyle Morse (202-557-4880) | comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Chris Stewart (R-UT), along with Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and John Kennedy (R-LA), introduced the Suicide Prevention Act. This bipartisan legislation aims to provide new resources to help reverse the tragic rise of suicide across the nation.

Rates of suicide have risen to epidemic levels in the United States, with suicide now the tenth leading cause of death in the country.  On average, there are roughly 129 deaths by suicide every day. This bill would enhance data collection and sharing, as appropriate, in real-time, to help save lives. It also provides funding for suicide prevention programs in emergency departments to train and equip personnel in suicide prevention strategies.

“No American struggling with self-harm or suicidal ideation should have to face their challenges alone. The Suicide Prevention Act will provide our emergency departments with the tools to identify and support at-risk patients, during and after their hospital visits,” said Congresswoman Matsui, a senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “There are thousands of patients who show up to emergency departments showing signs of self-harm behavior and are simply overlooked once they leave care.  With suicide rates climbing to unprecedented levels we need to act now.  We have a moral obligation to provide the most complete and expansive resources, leverage data to inform policy and best practices, and effectively implement prevention programs and protocols for those who have the knowledge to save lives.”

“Suicide hits close to home with Utah having the 5th highest suicide rate in the nation. I’ve met with family and friends of those who have taken their own life. I’ve heard their stories and I’m responding to their pleas for help. This bill is a part of my longstanding commitment to reverse this troubling trend,” said Congressman Chris Stewart.

The Suicide Prevention Act:

Expands Data Collection to Improve Prevention Efforts
This legislation would authorize funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to partner with state and local health departments to improve surveillance of suicide attempts and other incidences of self-harm.  Current data collection efforts regarding suicide are often years after the fact, which limits the ability of state and local health departments, as well as community organizations, to recognize trends early and intervene.  This bill would enhance data collection and sharing, as appropriate, in real-time, to help save lives.

Prevents Suicide Among Emergency Department Patients
Recognizing that emergency health care providers are at the frontlines of responding to suicide attempts, this bill would authorize funding for a grant program within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to fund suicide prevention programs in emergency departments (ED) to better train staff in suicide prevention strategies, screen at-risk patients, and refer patients to appropriate follow-up care.  The legislation would also require SAMHSA to develop best practices for such programs, so that health care providers are able to provide their patients with the best possible care and advice.  Approximately 37 percent of individuals without a previous history of mental health or substance abuse who die by suicide make an ED visit within the year before their death.  According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the risk of suicide is greatest within a month of discharge from the hospital. 

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