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Bipartisan Bill Introduced by Senators Hassan & Ernst to Help Prevent Youth Suicide Heads to President’s Desk

WASHINGTON – Bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) to address rising youth suicide rates passed the U.S. House of Representatives today and now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. The bipartisan STAND UP Act comes as students across New Hampshire have reached out to Senator Hassan about the urgent need to address mental health challenges and expand access to resources for young people.  


“I frequently hear from Granite Staters about the need to strengthen mental health support, and oftentimes the most outspoken advocates on this issue are young people,” Senator Hassan said. “It is heartbreaking how many teenagers in our state know a friend or a classmate who died by suicide, and it is essential that we do more to help prevent these kinds of tragedies. I look forward to seeing this important bill get signed into law to help prevent youth suicide, and I will continue to find ways to support the actions that our young people are taking to tackle the stigma around mental health.”


“With youth suicide tragically on the rise across the country, we need to do more to raise awareness and prevent these deaths. This bipartisan bill will ensure that state and local educational agencies that receive federal grants for mental health support implement evidence-based suicide prevention and awareness training policies. I am glad to see this effort pass Congress and urge President Biden to quickly sign it into law,” said Senator Ernst.  


“The more schools that offer suicide prevention training, the more we can empower youth to help themselves and their peers,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and CEO of the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. “I am grateful to U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) along with U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Scott Peters (D-CA) for championing this important, life-saving legislation. Because of their staunch support, countless youth who are suffering in the shadows may finally get the help they need.” 


“House passage of the Stand Up Act could not come at a more critical time as youth and young adults report experiencing record high rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation due to the pandemic. This legislation will help save lives by providing schools and communities with essential, evidence-based tools and training to prevent suicide and we look forward to the President signing this bill into law.  We are grateful to Senators Hassan and Ernst for sponsoring the bill and, especially, to all the advocates, survivors of suicide attempts, and those who have lost a loved one to suicide who have shared their struggles and heartbreak to help foster health and hope for all our young people,” said Susan Stearns, Executive Director of NAMI New Hampshire. 


The CDC has found that suicide has been one of the leading causes of death for those aged 10-24. The Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act would take important steps to address this by encouraging states, public schools, and Tribes to implement evidence-based policies and trainings to prevent suicides in order to receive certain types of grants, including ones to promote youth mental health awareness among schools and communities and improve connections to services for school-age youth. It also requires that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration publish best practices for student suicide awareness and prevention training, as well as provide technical assistance in implementing these policies.


Senator Hassan is focused on lifting up the stories and efforts of young people across New Hampshire who are working to address mental health challenges among their peers. Today, Senator Hassan recognized three students from Exeter High School as her “Granite Staters of the Month” for organizing a hockey game as part of an initiative to promote discussions around student mental health and show teenagers that they are not alone. During a recent Senate committee hearing, Senator Hassan read a letter written by a student from Candia who wrote to the Senator about the lack of attention on mental health care in schools and in the workplace. Senator Hassan also recently introduced a youth mental health expert from Portsmouth as a hearing witness on the youth mental health crisis, and previously visited Epping High School to discuss students’ social and emotional needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.