12.11.19

Gardner and Bipartisan Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Help Prevent Suicides

This legislation is part of Senator Gardner’s ongoing initiative to address rising suicide rates in Colorado

Washington, D.C. – In an effort to curb the rising suicide rate across the country, U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Angus King (I-ME) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act of 2019. The legislation establishes a grant program to improve suicide screening and prevention practices in emergency departments with a focus on increasing identification, assessment, and treatment of patients who are at risk for suicide. U.S. Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. 

“More than 50,000 visits to Colorado emergency rooms in the last three years were due to a mental health crisis,” said Senator Gardner. “Data shows that around 40 percent of people who die by suicide visited an emergency department in the year leading up to their death. This bipartisan legislation will help emergency department professionals identify and treat patients with a high risk of suicide, improving prevention. It will also help recruit behavioral health professionals and develop innovative solutions for suicide prevention, through tools like telehealth, which will help provide critical mental health support for rural and underserved areas.”

“This bill addresses a prominent need – equipping Alaska emergency departments with the tools needed to assess for and treat suicidal patients, as well as strengthening connections to follow up care. As Alaska continues to face one of the highest rates of suicide in the country, additional resources dedicated to implementing suicide prevention programs in our emergency rooms can go a long way. Programs that include assessments, treatment, and care coordination can make a tremendous impact in our state,” said Senator Murkowski. “Our hearts break for those thinking about suicide or seeking to take their own life, and it’s critical that we take every step we can to provide help before it is too late.”   

“On average, someone dies by suicide every 10 hours in Alabama. We need all hands on deck to save lives and confront this tragic epidemic. This bill will help hospital emergency rooms better identify people who are at risk for suicide and make sure they have the care they need after they are discharged from the hospital,” said Senator Jones. 

The bill authorizes $20 million for Fiscal Year 2020 through 2024 for the new grant program with preference given to critical access hospitals, sole community hospitals, tribally operated hospitals, or sites located in geographic areas with suicide rates higher than the national rate. 

The bill text is available here.

Senator Gardner has made it a priority to address rising suicide rates in Colorado and across the nation:

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.