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Stewart's Suicide Prevention Bills Pass Committee

Washington, July 15, 2020
Tags: Health

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce unanimously passed Rep. Chris Stewart’s (UT-02) National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, H.R. 4194, and Suicide Prevention Act, H.R. 5619. Following the committee’s markup, these two bills will now be considered on the House Floor.

Following the committee’s markup and passage of the bill, Congressman Stewart released the following statement:

“We are one step closer to passage of these life-saving bills. These two bills together give American families and healthcare professionals the tools necessary to help combat suicide. Suicide prevention is something that we can all get behind and I urge my colleagues to take immediate action.” – Rep. Chris Stewart

More about the “National Suicide Hotline Designation Act”:

Rep. Stewart Introduced the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act last August with leading co-sponsor Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA). This bi-partisan legislation assigns the FCC’s recommended number, 9-8-8, as the easy three-digit dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Read the full press release here.

The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act authorizes states to collect a fee limited to supporting local crisis call centers that are affiliated within the national network or enhancements of such services. This allows states to fund the suicide hotline services similar to that of existing emergency services.

In addition, this legislation sets a deadline of one year for the FCC to complete the nationwide upgrade of the legacy switches to support 9-8-8. It also requests a report from the FCC to determine the feasibility of providing an automatic dispatchable location for 9-8-8 calls.

More about the “Suicide Prevention Act”:

Introduced by Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT), Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Senators John Kennedy (R-LA) and Jack Reed (D-RI), this bipartisan legislation aims to provide new resources to help reverse the tragic rise of suicide across the nation. Read the full press release here.

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.

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