WASHINGTON – Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) on Sept. 28 reintroduced the Suicide Prevention Act, legislation that provides new resources to help prevent and reverse the troublesome and tragic rise in suicide rates throughout the country.
“September is Suicide Prevention Month, and it is essential that we act now to raise awareness about the importance of early intervention to prevent suicide,” said Matsui. “The Suicide Prevention Act would provide local health departments with resources to monitor suicide attempts and self-harm incidences. This bill would also equip emergency departments with the tools and training they need to help those at-risk receive the highest level of care and support. During Suicide Prevention Month and beyond, we must commit to developing and advancing prevention practices that will save lives.”
Expanding Data Collection to Improve Prevention Efforts: Currently, data on suicide is often reported years after the fact. This limits the ability of state and local health departments and community organizations to recognize trends early and intervene. The Suicide Prevention Act would authorize a new grant program through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help state and local health departments improve surveillance of suicide attempts and other incidences of self-harm.
Providing Resources to Emergency Health Care Providers: Emergency health care providers are at the frontlines of responding to suicide attempts. Approximately 37% of individuals without a previous history of mental health or substance use disorder who died by suicide made an emergency department (ED) visit in the year prior, and the risk of suicide is greatest within a month of discharge from the hospital. To empower emergency health care providers to respond to vulnerable patients and prevent future suicide attempts, this bill would authorize a new grant program within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to fund suicide prevention programs in EDs to 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.
A long-time advocate of mental health, Matsui has led and supported legislation to improve mental health care. She led the Telemental Health Care Access Act, which would remove barriers to high-quality, virtual mental and behavioral health care for Medicare beneficiaries.
Matsui also co-led the 988 Implementation Act, which would provide federal resources for states to implement their crisis response infrastructure one year after the launch of 988, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.