WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, President Biden signed into law Rep. Scott Peters’ (D-CA-52) STANDUP Act, which will encourage schools to implement evidence-based suicide prevention training for students in grades 6 through 12. The bipartisan, bicameral measure requires states, schools, and Tribes to teach students, teachers, and administrators to identify and address threats before tragedy occurs to receive Project AWARE grants, which promote youth mental health awareness among schools and communities.
“It takes everyone in a school – students, teachers, administrators, and parents – to foster a safe, inclusive learning environment. Now law, our STANDUP Act will help students and educators identify, intervene, and get help for those at risk of hurting themselves or others,” said Rep. Peters. “I’m grateful for my congressional partners and Sandy Hook Promise for their support of this effort, and to President Biden for signing my bill into law.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death in people ages 10-24, with cases of suicide among Black and other minority youth notably rising in recent years. Reports also indicate the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated children’s and teens’ anxiety, depression, and isolation, which are stressors commonly associated with suicide.
Adolescent suicide and violence can be prevented: 70 percent of people who die by suicide tell someone their plans or demonstrate warning signs, and 80 percent of school shooters tell someone their plans prior to acting. The STANDUP Act’s policies are key to stopping school violence and youth suicide by encouraging early prevention, teaching children and adults to heed warning signs, and giving educators and administrators the tools they need to stop violence before it happens.
Rep. Peters first introduced this bill with Rep. Bilirakis in 2019 with the support of Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL-22) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) before his visit to Bernardo Heights Middle School in Rancho Bernardo where he met with student advocates for the school’s Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) Promise Club and the Mental Health Awareness Club. The students shared their experiences involving the “Start with Hello” inclusivity project and “See Something, Say Something” prevention program, initiatives like those the STANDUP Act would seek to expand to schools across the country.
This year, Reps. Val Demings (FL-10), Joe Neguse (CO-02), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE), Fred Upton (MI-06), John Katko (NY-24), Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Jim Himes (CT-04) and Tim Ryan (OH-13) joined Reps. Deutch and Fitzpatrick as original cosponsors. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) in December 2021.