July 7, 2016, Washington, DC – Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth in the United States between the ages of 13 to 24. Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and nearly half of all transgender individuals report attempting suicide at some point in their lives.
The United States House of Representatives voted today to pass a bill that includes measures to halt and reverse these shocking statistics. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), introduced and spearheaded by Representative Tim Murphy is a comprehensive mental health reform bill that among other things, reauthorizes many important and effective mental health programs, including the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act.
“The reauthorization of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act is one of Trevor’s key legislative priorities this year. Every 95 minutes a young person takes their life by suicide. We now urge the Senate to take this bill up so needed resources can continue to save young lives,” says Abbe Land, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project.
Initially created and named after former Senator Gordon Smith’s son, Garrett, who died by suicide in 2003, the program provides grants to states, tribes and tribal organizations, and colleges to prevent youth suicide, and also funds a national suicide prevention technical assistance center. To date all 50 states, 48 tribes and over 175 colleges have received funds to prevent youth suicide, including many grantees that have chosen interventions to specifically address LGBTQ youth suicide.
The Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) program has strong bipartisan support and has been shown to be effective. A recent evaluation showed decreases in suicide rates for states that had GLS funds, yet when programs were ended, suicide rates increased. This points to the vital need to sustain resources to ensure our nation’s LGBTQ youth have help and hope available.
We applaud the House of Representatives for passing this important mental health bill. We now immediately call for the Senate leadership to schedule a vote on the Mental Health Reform Act (S.2680), a similar bill that also includes a provision to reauthorize the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. Both chambers of Congress must pass these measures to ensure an uninterrupted system of support for youth to prevent this major public health problem.
ABOUT THE TREVOR PROJECT:
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth. Every day, The Trevor Project saves young lives through its free and confidential lifeline, educational materials, online resources, and advocacy. For more information, visit www.TheTrevorProject.org.
Amy Loudermilk, Assoc. Director of Government Affairs