National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Federal Legislation Introduced to Help End Youth Suicide

On Monday, March 8, 2004, Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), and Gordon Smith (R-OR) introduced the Youth Suicide Early Intervention and Prevention Expansion Act of 2004 (Senate bill 2175). A week earlier, Senator DeWine had convened a hearing that made patently clear that youth suicide represents a public health crisis in our nation.

About every 2 hours, a young person under the age of 25 commits suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in youth aged 10 to 24. Tragically, over 4,000 young lives are lost each year to suicide. Studies show that 90% of youth that commit suicide were suffering from a diagnosable and treatable mental illness at the time of their death. It is difficult to imagine the unthinkable pain that parents and families suffer when a child is lost to suicide.

This legislation -- S. 2175 -- will help state and local governments and non-profit organizations address this public health crisis by assisting in their efforts to develop and implement statewide youth suicide early intervention and prevention strategies. These strategies will help ensure that services reach youth and their families in their communities, in schools, juvenile justice systems, substance abuse programs, mental health programs, foster care systems and other child serving organizations.

Grants authorized under this legislation will help to reduce youth suicides through statewide screening for youth at risk for emotional or behavioral disorders and early intervention with links to community-based mental health and other appropriate services. It promotes accountability from those awarded grants by requiring an evaluation of and reporting on the effectiveness and efficacy of the suicide prevention and early intervention activities. Those awarded grants must also develop community awareness campaigns on risk factors associated with youth suicide and the care available from early intervention and prevention services.

The Senate bill (S. 2175) was introduced and referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee.

Action Needed

Please contact your Senators and ask for their co-sponsorship and support of this critically important legislation. If your Senator is a member of the HELP Committee, please contact them and ask for their support of this legislation (a list of HELP committee members can be found on their web site at

Also, please thank current Congressional sponsors and co-sponsors of this critically important legislation:

Senate Sponsor and Co-Sponsors

Senator DeWine (R-OH), Senator Dodd (D-CT), Senator Smith (R-OR) and Senator Reid (D-NV).

All Senators and House Representatives can be contacted directly via this website.

Thank you for your continuing advocacy on these important issues.