Brittany Rebecca Helton

Suicide Prevention Public Policies

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.

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National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) BIG news!!

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

We’re happy to report that last week the Senate approved an additional $15 million for the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS). As many of you know in order to design effective suicide prevention strategies, we must first have complete, accurate and timely information about deaths by suicide. NVDRS provides this information, which is essential to improve state and federal suicide prevention activities.  Current funding of $3.5 million allows only 18 states to participate in this program.

On Tuesday July 9, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee approved their Fiscal Year 2014 bill which included the increase in funding and this was subsequently approved by the full Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, July 11.

AFSP can claim full credit for this important victory. Between our work on June 13 during our Annual Advocacy Forum Hill visits and field advocate emails and calls last week our advocates were responsible for getting this increased funding approved during the Subcommittee markup. We ultimately beat back a rumored amendment that was to be offered during the full Committee markup that would have at minimum restricted the funding and at most stripped it entirely.

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AFSP Field Advocacy Forum Trip June 2013

by on Jun.24, 2013, under Suicide Prevention Public Policies, Thoughts and Feelings

The trip to Washington DC was a huge success! We were able to meet with Harry Reid, the Senate Majority leader to discuss with him the need for his co-sponsorship on several different topics that revolve around suicide prevention. Being a survivor of suicide himself (having lost his father many years ago), it was especially touching to be able to talk with him about the help that he knows we so desperately need to make this a world without suicide. He is an extremely busy man, but was so nice to take time to sit with us, even for just a few minutes.

Phil had so much great information to share with the people that we met with as well as the people that were there for AFSP. His insight in regards to the military is so very valuable and very much needed. We can all speculate about what is going on in the military, but with him actually being active duty and with the specialty position that he holds, everyone was very interested in speaking with him about it. Thank God that he was there with me because I do not think that I could have made it through without him.

me and phil Capitol

Phil and I on Capitol Hill

Harry Reid photo

Phil, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) and me at the Capitol Building in the Senate Majority Leader’s suite


Me, Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (CA) and Phil

Me, Congresswoman Grace Napolitano and Phil at the AFSP awards event

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