Washington, DC – Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) announced the introduction of the Suicide Prevention Assistance Act (H.R. 2648), which would integrate mental health screenings as an essential part of primary care visits by establishing a new grant program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Specifically, these grants would allow for on-site mental health professionals in doctors’ offices and other primary care settings to assist when necessary, help connect patients with additional long-term mental health care, and require SAMHSA to develop best practices for screening for self-harm and suicidal ideation.
“Thirty-two years ago today, I found out that my father, a World War II Marine veteran who served his country proudly, took his own life by firearm. His story has taught me firsthand that we need to do more to help people who may not seek help. By making mental and behavioral health screenings part of a primary care visit, it will both increase access to immediate support and advance the fight to destigmatize seeking help,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier.
“The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, applauds Congressman Mark DeSaulnier for championing the provision of suicide prevention resources in primary care settings, one of the essential strategies for achieving the goal of reducing the suicide rate 20% by 2025. 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 urge his colleagues to follow his example,” said Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“In 2019 more than 47,000 people tragically died from suicide, with 45% of individuals who die by suicide having visited their primary care physician within a month of their death. We strongly support the Suicide Prevention Assistance Act as it fills a vital role in addressing gaps in the continuum of care. Research shows that by providing physicians and their offices with necessary tools, training, and resources, they can effectively prevent suicides, so we thank Congressman DeSaulnier for directly addressing suicide prevention in this manner,” said Colleen Creighton, CEO 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, mortality 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.
Congressman DeSaulnier introduced a previous version of this bill in both the 115th and 116th Congresses.