U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-MD) applauded the passage of five suicide bills on the House floor with bipartisan support on Monday.
The bills focus on preventing suicide by providing funding for various prevention programs and for designating a national Suicide Hotline number.
In June, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 40 percent of adults in the U.S. reported struggling with mental health and substance use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, younger Americans, essential workers and communities of color have reported disproportionally higher rates of suicidal thoughts and substance use, the CDC said.
“It’s about time that we start treating mental health with the same importance we treat physical health in this country. These bills are a fantastic step in the right direction,” Trone said. “I applaud their passage and I look forward to working with my colleagues to further support Marylanders during this extremely difficult time.”
Two bills – S. 2661 and H.R. 4564 – would designate a National Suicide Hotline – 988 – as a universal dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. A separate bill would increase the funding for the Hotline, and direct the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services to create a pilot program to use other forms of communication – like texting and social media – to prevent suicides. Additionally, the bills would direct HHS to come up with a program to prevent suicide in high-risk categories, like LGBTQ+ young people.
A separate bill, H.R. 1646, the HERO Act, would provide funding for programs to prevent suicides by public safety officers. H.R. 4585 would require the CDC to develop and implement a national media campaign focused on suicide prevention. And H. R. 5619, the Suicide Prevention Act, would establish grant programs through the CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for suicide prevention efforts among patients after discharge and expanded surveillance of self-harm.
The bills now go to the Senate for a vote.