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Reps. Stewart, Trahan, Carey, Porter Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Stop Online Suicide Assistance Forums

WASHINGTON— Reps. Chris Stewart (R-UT), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Mike Carey (R-OH), and Katie Porter (D-CA) have introduced the Stop Online Suicide Assistance Forums Act. This bipartisan legislation will make it a felony offense for anyone who uses mail or interstate communications, such as online forums, to assist in another person’s attempt to die by suicide. The bill would also give the U.S. Department of Justice additional authority to pursue cases against suicide assistance forums, including a popular site recently covered by a New York Times investigation.

“Big Tech needs to be held accountable,” said Rep. Stewart. “Our nation is in a mental health crisis – suicide is a top ten cause of death nationwide, as well as in my home state. Still, companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Reddit have failed to stop users from sharing suicide methods and encouraging self-harm. Our bill will finally start holding these platforms responsible. I’m proud to introduce this bill alongside my Democrat colleagues, and I’m eager to continue pursuing accountability and a healthier nation.”

“We’re facing a mental health crisis in our nation, and suicide – particularly among young people – is dangerously on the rise. The last thing we need right now is an online forum operating in the shadows of the internet that actively encourages and even assists people to die by suicide,” said Congresswoman Trahan. “Suicidal ideation must be met with mental health care and therapies focused on prevention – not real-time instructions and encouragement to die by suicide. This bipartisan legislation will finally ensure the Department of Justice has the authority necessary to target websites and users that push those in need of help toward self-harm instead.”

“As America’s mental health crisis has escalated in recent years, so too has the rise of malicious actors seeking to take advantage of those who believe suicide is their only option,” said Congressman Carey. “Online suicide assistance forums are making this crisis worse and it’s time we take a stand by passing the Stop Online Suicide Assistance Forums Act to bring justice for the victims and hold these criminals accountable.”

“It is heartbreaking for families to lose a loved one to suicide and despicable that online forums would push people in crisis to attempt suicide,” said Congresswoman Porter. “Cracking down on online suicide assistance forums will protect teens and young adults, who disproportionately make up the users for these sites and are most vulnerable to suicide.”

Online suicide assistance forums, where people can find detailed instructions and real-time assistance on how to die by suicide, are attracting millions of viewers per month. Many of these sites have easily accessible pages championing highly lethal suicide methods and hundreds of threads pushing distressed users to attempt to die by suicide. A prominent feature of these sites are “goodbye threads”, where a member actively declares their intention to die by suicide and often documents the process in real time, all while others provide advice and encouragement to advance the attempt.

The Stop Online Suicide Assistance Forums Act is simple. It establishes a felony offense for anyone who uses mail or interstate communication, including online forums, to intentionally assist in another individual’s suicide attempt that results in death. The bipartisan legislation does not criminalize the act or attempt to die by suicide, and it does not impact state sanctioned physician-assisted end of life care.

The Stop Online Suicide Assistance Forums Act has been endorsed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American Psychological Association, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, RI International, the American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists, the Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance, and Inseparable.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, feeling at risk of suicide, or experiencing a state of distress, it is crucial to find help immediately. There are many resources available, including the 988 Suicide & Crisis Hotline which provides free, confidential support 24/7, and the Crisis Text Line which offers free crisis counseling 24/7. Dial 988 or text HOME to 741741 to connect with these services.

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