Brittany Rebecca Helton

Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization Introduced into the House

by on Jul.29, 2013, under Suicide Prevention Public Policies

WASHINGTON – On Friday, U.S. Congressmen Bill Cassidy and Danny Davis introduced legislation to reauthorize the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA).

 H.R. 2734, the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization of 2013 would revise and extend provisions of the original Act signed into law by President Bush in 2004.  GLSMA funds assist states, tribes, colleges and universities develop suicide prevention and intervention programs, which are often the first line of defense for those battling mental illness.

 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 38,000 Americans die by suicide every year, and suicide remains the second leading cause of death for young people age 15-24.  The CDC also reports that 157,000 young people alone are treated for self-inflicted injuries annually, often a result of a failed suicide attempt.

“In the last year, horrific consequences of untreated mental illness have drawn national attention—but statistics show that these events are only a glimpse into the often ignored national struggle with mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia,” said Congressman Bill Cassidy, who noted that those with mental illness are far more likely to be a victim of self-directed violence than the perpetrators of violence against others. “This bill provides the critical resources needed to connect at-risk individuals to the services they need to recover before it’s too late.”

 He continued, “In my own state, GLS funding supports the Louisiana Partnership for Youth Suicide Prevention (LPTSP), which played an instrumental role in responding to mental health needs following Hurricane Katrina. LPTSP has since expanded to statewide outreach and education activities, providing prevention and assessment services to those at risk for emotional or behavioral disorders that lead to suicide or suicide attempts.”

“Children are the future of our nation,” said Rep. Danny Davis. “We should do everything in our vested power to ensure that suicide does not become an option and to remove it as the second leading cause of death among so many Americans between the ages of 15-24.”

 The legislation is named for former Senator Gordon Smith’s (R-OR) 22 year old son, Garrett who took his own life in September of 2003. Senator Smith led the original bill and continues to champion suicide prevention and mental health initiatives.