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Congressman Gus Bilirakis

Representing the 12th District of Florida

Reps. Bilirakis and Peters Champion Suicide Prevention Legislation

May 9, 2019
Press Release
-The STANDUP Act provides students and schools with evidence-based suicide and threat assessment training-

WASHINGTON, D.C. –, Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12)  and Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) are proud to  introduce the bipartisan Suicide and Threat Assessment Nationally Dedicated to Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act of 2019 to encourage schools to expand evidence-based suicide prevention training to students in grades 6 through 12. It would also provide training for threat identification, triage, and intervention, as well guidance and protocol for coordinating with local law enforcement using established school threat assessment models. More than 20 states already require suicide prevention programs in schools, which demonstrate effective reductions in suicide, bullying, aggression, and violence between students. These programs have also decreased rates of expulsion and suspension.

 

“There is no higher priority than keeping our children safe.  By providing high quality screening and prevention training to school staff and peers, we can identify threats before they materialize, and ensure that those who are at risk get the mental health treatment they need.  Sadly, some communities in my district are among those with the highest suicide rates in our state. With training like this, we can help reverse that troubling trend,” said Rep. Bilirakis.

 

Sandy Hook Promise, a national nonprofit founded by family members who lost loved ones during the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, has endorsed the bill. Representatives Ted Deutch (FL-22) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) are also original supporters of the bill.  “The rates of youth suicide and violence occurring in our country’s schools are appalling. We know that with proper training and threat assessment teams embedded in schools that self-harm, violence, and suicide can be preventable. We are proud to partner with these bipartisan champions to pass this critical legislation to ensure that more youth and adults 'know the signs’ to properly intervene before a tragedy can occur and we urge Congress to pass this bill,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and father of Daniel who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.

 

 According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death of people ages 10-34. In 2017, there were more than twice as many deaths by suicide as there were homicides.  In Florida, Pinellas and Pasco counties lead the state in the number of suicide deaths per capita.  The STANDUP Act is a tangible step toward decreasing that tragic statistic. 

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