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Bipartisan Bilirakis Bill to Help Curb Suicides Passes the House

September 29, 2020
Press Release


Summer Blevins 727-232-2921


Bipartisan Bilirakis Bill to Help Curb Suicides Passes the House


Representative Gus Bilirakis is proud to announce that the House has passed the bipartisan suicide prevention bill he authored with Congressman Engel.  Since 2001, the suicide rate in the United States has risen by a shocking 31%, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the nation, with an estimated 47,000 lives lost each year.  To help curb this growing problem, Bilirakis filed the Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act which would create a voluntary grant program to assist emergency departments in developing protocols for identifying, assessing and treating individuals at risk for suicide.  This proactive approach is vital because emergency departments are often the first, and sadly too often the only, point of contact within the healthcare system for those most at risk for suicide, such as those with severe mental health conditions or substance use disorders.  A 2016 study found that 11% of all emergency department patients exhibited suicidal ideation.  However, only 3% of those patients were diagnosed by current screening tools.  Additionally, statistics show that up to 70% of patients who leave the emergency department after a suicide attempt never attend their first outpatient follow-up appointment. 


“These staggering statistics make it clear that we need improved methods for identifying and assessing the suicide risks of emergency department patients,” Bilirakis said. “As part of my long-term commitment to fixing our broken mental health care system, I want to be sure that we enhance the procedures surrounding the discharge of patients who have attempted suicide or exhibit suicidal ideation to maximize the likelihood that they obtain appropriate follow-up care. Our bill is the first step in making that happen. I appreciate the hard work of the Emergency Nurses Association on this important patient care issue and their support for this legislation.  I hope that my Senate colleagues will now expedite its passage so that it can begin saving lives.”


Emergency departments are often the place where patients go within our health care system that provides care for patients at risk for suicide, such as those with severe behavioral health conditions or substance use disorders,” said ENA President Patti Kunz Howard, PhD, RN, CEN, CPEN, TCRN, NE-BC, FAEN, FAAN. “Suicide screening is an essential component of ensuring patient safety. This legislation would create opportunities for more emergency departments to effectively screen, assess and treat high-risk patients.  We thank Representatives Bilirakis and Engel for recognizing the urgent need to enhance the capabilities of emergency departments to address this growing national crisis,” Howard offered.