Skip to content

Kaine Joins Schatz In Introducing Legislation to Prevent Youth Suicide

Bill Funds Initiatives To Support Suicide Prevention, Train Medical Professionals In Suicide Prevention And Lethal Means Safety

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee, announced his co-sponsorship of the Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act, legislation to prevent youth suicide, the second-leading cause of death for people aged 10-24. This bill would fund suicide prevention initiatives, ensure health care providers receive training to prevent intentional harm, and create a centralized hub to provide safety information to at-risk-youth and their support networks.

“Even before COVID-19, our nation was experiencing a mental health crisis, and this pandemic has only exacerbated the issue,” said Senator Kaine. “I am committed to doing everything I can to expand access to mental health services and support those seeking treatment. I’ll keep working to ensure Virginia’s children have the mental health resources they need.”

Suicide rates among young Americans increased 56 percent between 2007 and 2017 according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the pandemic threatens to accelerate these trends. A June 2021 CDC report found a significant increase in emergency department visits for suicide attempts among adolescents aged 12-17, including a spike of more than 50 percent among adolescent girls. A critical opportunity to identify young people at risk is in health care settings, but many health care professionals lack the training or resources to do so. This bill prepares health care professionals to identify and respond to warning signs by training them in evidence-based suicide prevention practices like lethal means safety, a practice limiting access to objects that can be used for self-directed violence, and providing funding to connect at-risk patients with crisis resources.

Specifically, the Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act would:

  • Establish a grant program to provide funding for initiatives that offer youth suicide prevention and lethal means safety education, training, and resources to health care professionals.
  • Establish a grant program to integrate lethal means safety and suicide prevention topics into curricula at health professional schools to ensure that future nurses, doctors, and mental and behavioral health care providers have received the education and training that will allow them to prevent lethal means injuries, deaths, and suicides among their patients.
  • Create a centralized hub to provide important lethal means safety and suicide prevention information to at-risk youth and their family members, health professional schools, and health care providers.

The Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act, led by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), is also co-sponsored by U.S Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Cory Booker (D-NJ). It was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL).

The Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act is supported by more than 50 organizations and public entities, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American Hospital Association, and the Association of American Medical Colleges. A full list of endorsing organizations is available here.

The full text of the legislation can be found here.

Senator Kaine has been a champion for promoting mental health services, especially for health care providers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. His bipartisan legislation to prevent burnout, suicide, and mental and behavioral health issues among health care workers, the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, passed the Senate in August and now awaits action in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation is named after a Charlottesville-born physician who died by suicide in April 2020 while working on the frontlines of the pandemic in New York.