DeSaulnier Announces Legislation to Increase Access to Suicide Prevention Services in Doctor’s Offices and Other Primary Care Settings

Press Release

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Washington, DC –Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) announced the introduction of the Suicide Prevention Assistance Act (H.R. 4353), which establishes a new grant program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to expand suicide prevention efforts for adults in doctor’s offices and other primary care settings. Evidence shows that 64 percent of victims visited their primary care doctor within one month of their suicide.

“Increasing access to mental and behavioral health care is essential in the fight to decrease suicides and destigmatize seeking help. When my father, a proud World War II Marine veteran, committed suicide, he had given no indication of his mental struggles and sought no help. By integrating mental health screenings as an essential component of a primary care visit, we can help provide more immediate access to support and save more lives,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier.

“The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, applauds Congressman Mark DeSaulnier for continuing to champion the issue of providing suicide prevention resources in primary care settings, one of the essential pillars of Project 2025’s critical prevention areas. Considering up to 45% of individuals who die by suicide recently visited their primary care physician before their death, it is critically important that we increase resources in this arena. We thank Congressman DeSaulnier for prioritizing suicide prevention and for taking action, and we urge his colleagues to follow his example,” said John Madigan, Senior Vice President and Chief Public Policy Officer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“In 2017 more than 47,000 people tragically took their own life making suicide one of the leading causes of death across the nation.  With 45% of individuals who die by suicide having visited their primary care physician within a month of their death, the Suicide Prevention Assistance Act fills a vital role in addressing this public health concern by providing  primary care offices the tools and resources they need to effectively reach patients and provide them with the critical assistance they need,” said Colleen Creighton, Executive Director of the American Association of Suicidology.

“Mortality from suicide in the United States now exceeds that for breast cancer and prostate cancer.  In certain populations including men ages 35 to 55 is rising at alarming rates.  We need to develop effective strategies for suicide prevention and begin adopting them on a wider scale.  Congressman DeSaulnier’s legislation is an important step toward that important goal,” said the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

H.R. 4353 creates grants to have an on-site mental health professional assist when necessary in primary care settings, helps connect patients with additional long-term mental health care, and requires SAMHSA to develop best practices for screening for self-harm and suicide prevention. Congressman DeSaulnier introduced a previous version of this bill in the 115th Congress.


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