Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Doris Matsui’s (D-AZ) Suicide Prevention Act passed the House. After passage of the bipartisan bill, Rep. Stewart released the following statement:
“We are now one step closer to making this life-saving bill a reality,” said Rep. Chris Stewart. “It’s time we give American families and health care professionals the tools they need to combat suicide. I urge all of my colleagues in the Senate, both Democrat and Republican, to support this bill and get it to the president’s desk.”
Expanding 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.
Preventing 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.