E&C Leaders Request Briefings Following Alarming Reports of a Website Encouraging Suicide
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO), Oversight and Investigations Ranking Member Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Latta (R-OH), Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Ranking Member Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) issued the following statement today following detailed reporting on a website that may have played a role in the deaths of 45 individuals by suicide:
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the pre-existing mental health crisis in America, especially among our nation’s young people. During this challenging time, we are deeply concerned by recent reporting on a website that provides advice on methods of suicide and facilitates discussions encouraging people to take their lives. The site poses real harm—a recent investigation by The New York Times identified 45 individuals who died by suicide after visiting this site.
“To better understand how this website is able to continue encouraging suicide, we have requested briefings from search engines, web hosting companies, companies that run content delivery networks, and relevant social media platforms. It is imperative that companies take the threat of such sites seriously and take appropriate steps to mitigate harm. We have also requested briefings from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, including from the U.S. Surgeon General, to discuss this growing crisis and efforts to provide support for Americans and counter harmful online content.
“We are committed to taking further action to address the role of online content in the nation’s mental health emergency. Meeting the country’s mental health needs and supporting investments in mental health education, prevention, care, and services for all Americans, and especially children and young people, is a priority for the Committee.”
The Committee continues to lead on mental health issues during a particularly challenging time. In October 2021, leading children’s health organizations declared a National State of Emergency in Children’s Mental Health and just this month U.S. Surgeon General Murthy issued a National Advisory on the youth mental health crisis that has been further exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In May 2021, the House passed 12 bipartisan mental health and suicide prevention bills, including legislation that would provide additional tools and resources for emergency departments, health care providers, and schools in responding to suicide and mental health needs and support access and awareness to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and suicide surveillance.
The Committee urges those in crisis to seek help, including through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or through their website, https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org.