House leaders praise passage of suicide prevention, awareness bills

House leaders praise passage of suicide prevention, awareness bills

Leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives praised the passage of five suicide prevention bills in the House this week.

U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee; Anna Eshoo (D-CA), chair of the Health Subcommittee and Mike Doyle (D-PA), chair of the Communications and Technology subcommittee, said the bills were needed as suicides are increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 1.4 million American adults making at least one attempt each year. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic creating profound distress and triggering depression for millions across the country, the House today passed five bills that collectively treat suicide like the public health emergency it is,” the legislators wrote in a press release. “Taken together, this represents a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention and awareness, and we are proud that the House voted overwhelmingly today to pass such important legislation during National Suicide Prevention Month.”

HR 1646, the Helping Emergency Responders Overcome Act of 2019, would create a data system at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to gather incidences of suicide amongst public safety officers and to study successful interventions while authorizing grants for wellness programs and requiring the development of practices for addressing PTSD in public safety officers.

H.R. 4564, the “Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act of 2019,” would increase the funding level of the National Suicide Prevention lifeline from $50 million each year, while directing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish a plan for maintaining the program.

H.R. 4585, the “Campaign to Prevent Suicide Act,” directs HHS, in coordination with CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to execute a national suicide prevention media campaign to advertise the new 9-8-8 suicide prevention hotline number (when it becomes effective) and to raise awareness for suicide prevention resources. The House also passed S. 2661, which designated 9-8-8 as the universal number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

H.R. 5619, the “Suicide Prevention Act,” would establish two grant programs through the CDC and SAMHSA to prevent self-harm and suicide.