Bilirakis, Deutch Back an Effort to Expand Teen Suicide Prevention Efforts

By KEVIN DERBY Sunshine State News

Gus Bilirakis and Ted Deutch

Gus Bilirakis and Ted Deutch

With teen suicide on the rise, two congressmen want to improve training in schools to prevent it. 

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla. and U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., teamed up to showcase the “Suicide and Threat Assessment Nationally Dedicated to Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act” which would “expand evidence-based suicide prevention training to students in grades 6 through 12“ and “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.” Peters is the main sponsor of the bill. 

Noting that more than 20 states have suicide prevention programs in schools already, Bilirakis’ office noted the programs have proven effective. 

“There is no higher priority than keeping our children safe,” Bilirakis said. “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.”

“Especially among children and young adults, gun violence against others or themselves are at heart-wrenching levels in our country. But this public health crisis is preventable. We know that often the warning signs are there; we just need to be trained to identify them and react appropriately. This bipartisan bill would help teachers and administrators catch those warning signs and intervene before gun violence tragedies occur,” said Deutch.

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., is also cosponsoring the bill. Sandy Hook Promise threw its support behind 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, the co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise. His son was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in December 2012. 

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee this week. So far, there is no version of the bill over in the U.S. Senate.