Reps. Peters, Bilirakis Introduce Suicide Prevention and School Threat Assessment Bill
Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) introduced 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 to students and schools for threat identification, triage, and intervention, as well as 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.
This bill was introduced the day after another tragic school shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch, just miles away from Columbine High School, which recently marked the 20th anniversary of a mass shooting.
“Gun violence and suicide are public health crises in our country. A whole generation of children is now afraid to go to school and think mass school shootings are the norm. We need only to look at the pictures from Colorado yesterday to understand that we must prioritize early prevention, heed warning signs, and give educators and administrators the tools to stop violence before it happens. This bipartisan bill, with the support of Sandy Hook Promise, takes a commonsense, evidence-based approach to address the root problems our students face that can turn them to violence and suicide,” said Rep. Peters.
“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 in the mass shooting 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.
“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 Rep. Deutch.
“One of the keys to preventing school violence is equipping students, teachers, and administrators with the skills they need to properly react to threats before a tragedy can occur,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “By addressing suicidal and violent behavior, the bipartisan STANDUP Act would give school districts the tools needed to protect our nation’s kids through swift and appropriate intervention.”
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.