When Oregon Senator Gordon H. Smith’s son died by suicide, his mission was to raise awareness about suicide prevention in colleges. Through the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA), signed by President George W. Bush in 2004, $82 million was authorized to provide suicide prevention and crisis intervention programs across the nation. For over a decade, funds have been used to support the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy Grants to States and Tribes, campus-based grants for college students, and mental health and substance use disorder services. At The Trevor Project, we recognize that this act has been crucial to the health of youth in the LGBTQ community.
Now, Congress is back in session and it’s time to make sure that the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act is passed so that vital funding for suicide prevention and intervention services remains available. Besides being its own standalone bill, all provisions of GLSMA are included in several bills currently in Congress, including the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act and the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act. The time is ripe for mental health reform in Washington, and Trevor supports the passage of any of these bills as long as the GLSMA provisions are contained and fully funded so that youth who may be thinking of suicide have the support and resources needed to maintain their mental health.
More than 90 percent of those who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder. Four out of five young people with a diagnosable mental health condition do not receive treatment. LGB youth are four times more likely and questioning youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, while nearly half of transgender youth have seriously considered attempting suicide. We can do better for young people who should be receiving treatment, but are not being diagnosed, do not have access to mental health professionals, or who face stigma and shame that keep their mental health challenges from being addressed.
Help save young lives by taking action to reform the mental health system and ensure Congress takes into account the needs of LGBTQ youth. Email your representatives today and ask them to include the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act provisions in mental health reform efforts. Together, let’s prevent suicide through education and awareness.
Photo courtesy of The White House