Maui News

Schatz Introduces New Legislation To Prevent Youth Suicide

October 9, 2021, 10:36 AM HST
* Updated October 7, 10:04 PM
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US Senator Brian Schatz. (6.23.21) PC: United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

US Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) introduced legislation to prevent youth suicide, the second leading cause of death for people aged 10-24. The Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act would fund suicide prevention initiatives, ensure health care providers receive training to prevent intentional harm, and create a centralized hub to provide safety information to at-risk youth and their support networks.

“Youth suicide is a crisis in Hawai‘i and across America, and we need to take every step we can to address it,” said Senator Schatz. “This bill provides important training and resources to medical professionals who will be able to help. I encourage my colleagues to take action on it immediately.”

“Pediatricians do everything we can to keep children healthy and safe, which includes protecting children from the dangers posed by firearms and counseling parents to remove guns from the home or store them safely to prevent child injury and fatality, including from suicide. The Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act would take critical steps toward keeping children safe and help health care professionals support young people who might be at risk for self-harm, especially in supporting the effective combination of physician counseling and provision of safe storage devices for families with firearms in their home. The American Academy of Pediatrics thanks Senator Brian Schatz for his leadership on this important bill and is calling for Congress to swiftly advance the legislation,” said Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“AFSP is proud to endorse the Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act to help prevent youth suicide. Voluntary action to make the environment safe from lethal means, including firearms, is an essential component of any effective suicide prevention strategy. This legislation will advance public education and build a comprehensive information center to help health care providers and families identify strategies to help youth at risk,” said Laurel Stine, J.D., M.A., Senior Vice President for Public Policy at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Suicide rates among young Americans increased 56% between 2007 and 2017 according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the pandemic threatens to accelerate these trends. A June 2021 CDC report found a significant increase in emergency department visits for suicide attempts among adolescents aged 12-17, including a spike of more than 50% among adolescent girls. A critical opportunity to identify young people at risk is in health care settings, but many health care professionals lack the training or resources to do so. This bill prepares health care professionals to identify and respond to warning signs by training them in evidence-based suicide prevention practices like lethal means safety, a practice limiting access to objects that can be used for self-directed violence, and providing funding to connect at-risk patients with crisis resources. Specifically, the Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act would:

  • Establish a grant program to provide funding for initiatives that offer youth suicide prevention and lethal means safety education, training, and resources to health care professionals;
  • Establish a grant program to integrate lethal means safety and suicide prevention topics into curricula at health professional schools to ensure that future nurses, doctors, and mental and behavioral health care providers have received the education and training that will allow them to prevent lethal means injuries, deaths, and suicides among their patients; and
  • Create a centralized hub to provide important lethal means safety and suicide prevention information to at-risk youth and their family members, health professional schools, and health care providers.
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The Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act is cosponsored by US Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.).

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The Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act is supported by more than 50 organizations and public entities, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the University of Hawai‘i System.

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