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E&C Leaders Praise House Passage of Suicide Prevention and Awareness Bills

Sep 21, 2020
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) released the following joint statement today after the House of Representatives passed five suicide prevention bills:

“Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 1.4 million American adults making at least one attempt each year. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic creating profound distress and triggering depression for millions across the country, the House today passed five bills that collectively treat suicide like the public health emergency it is.

“These bills establish a three-digit national suicide prevention hotline number, help raise awareness for the new number, invest in self-harm and suicide prevention programs and create new data systems to help us better understand the prevalence of suicide among public safety officers.

“Taken together, this represents a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention and awareness, and we are proud that the House voted overwhelmingly today to pass such important legislation during National Suicide Prevention Month.”

The House of Representatives passed the following bills:

H.R. 1646, the “Helping Emergency Responders Overcome Act of 2019” or the “HERO Act of 2019,” was introduced by Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA). The legislation would create a data system at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to capture public safety officer suicide incidences and study successful interventions, authorize grants for peer support behavioral health and wellness programs within fire departments and emergency medical service agencies, and require the development of best practices for addressing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in public safety officers and educational materials. The bill passed on the House Floor by voice vote.

H.R. 4564, the “Suicide Prevention Lifeline Improvement Act of 2019,” was introduced by Reps. John Katko (R-NY), Don Beyer (D-VA) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA). The legislation would increase the authorization funding level of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline program to $50 million each year, from Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 through FY 2022. The bill also directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish a plan for maintaining the program and includes a pilot program to research, analyze and employ various innovative technologies and platforms for suicide prevention. The bill passed on the House Floor by voice vote.

H.R. 4585, the “Campaign to Prevent Suicide Act,” was introduced by Reps. Beyer and Greg Gianforte (R-MT). The legislation would direct HHS, in coordination with CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to carry out a national suicide prevention media campaign to advertise the new 9-8-8 number, when it becomes effective, raise awareness for suicide prevention resources, and cultivate a more effective discourse on how to prevent suicide. The bill would also provide guidance to TV and social media companies on how to talk about suicide by creating a best practices toolkit. The bill passed on the House Floor by voice vote.

H.R. 5619, the “Suicide Prevention Act,” was introduced by Reps. Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Doris Matsui (D-CA). The legislation would establish two grant programs to prevent self-harm and suicide. The first program would authorize CDC to award grants to State, local, and Tribal health departments to expand surveillance of self-harm and the second program would authorize SAMHSA to award grants to hospital emergency departments for programs to prevent self-harm and suicide attempts among patients after discharge. The bill passed on the House Floor by voice vote.

S. 2661, the “National Suicide Hotline Designation Act,” a companion to the House legislation led by Reps. Stewart (R-UT) and Seth Moulton (D-MA), amends the Communications Act to designate 9-8-8 as the universal dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, allows states to impose a fee to support implementation, and requires a report on ways to help LGBTQ populations, among other things. The bill passed on the House Floor by voice vote.