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Beyer Hails Passage Of Suicide Prevention Legislation

Rep. Don Beyer today welcomed House passage of bipartisan legislation to bolster mental health services across the country. The Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act, which would strengthen and expand programs to address major shortages in mental health professionals and other barriers to care, passed the House on Wednesday with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 402-20.

The bill included Beyer’s bipartisan legislation to support the successful launch of the new National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 9-8-8 next month. Beyer spoke during floor debate on the bill, his remarks as prepared follow below (remarks as delivered may be seen here). Beyer is the co-founder and co-chair of the bipartisan House Suicide Prevention Task Force.

“The pandemic magnified both suicide risk and reporting of anxiety and depression with two out of five adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression.

The Kaiser Family Foundation released a report this morning that found that suicide death rates rose by 12% from 2010 to 2020 - with rates rising fastest among people of color, younger individuals, and people in rural areas.

Help can’t come fast enough.

I want to thank the Rules committee for allowing the Katko/Napolitano/Beyer amendment – which reflects our bill to reauthorize, ensure sufficient funding, and provide oversight of the Suicide Lifeline – to be made in order and included in the first en bloc today.

As the House and Senate finalize any mental health package to be signed into law, I want to take this time to mention my bill with Mr. Kinzinger – the Campaign to Prevent Suicide – which was passed by the Committee and the House last year.

It would help educate the American public both on the new 9-8-8 suicide lifeline number which is launching on July 16th and help change the culture around those in crisis to one of avoidance to one of connection to resources.

SAMHSA has mentioned the importance of it becoming law as crucial to the success of 9-8-8. And we want 9-8-8 to be successful. We’ve all worked too hard in a bipartisan way on 9-8-8 not to do so.

So I urge my colleagues to support this package here today and highlight the need to include my bill with Mr. Kinzinger – the Campaign to Prevent Suicide – which already passed with bipartisan support out of the House in any final mental health package that gets signing into law.

I want to thank the Chair and Ranking Member and Energy and Commerce committee staff for their commitment to tackling mental health. This is an important reauthorization package we are moving here today.”

The Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act takes several steps to bridge these gaps and connect Americans to urgently needed health services:

  • Strengthening Crisis Resources, including suicide prevention, mental health support, substance use disorder services, recovery housing and other services.
  • Addressing America’s Opioid Epidemic by easing access to life-saving treatments and strengthening training requirements for practitioners who prescribe controlled substances.
  • Investing in the Behavioral Health Workforce through additional training grants and state funding.
  • Supporting Young People’s Mental Health by strengthening pediatric mental health care, Medicaid behavioral health services and suicide prevention resources for college students.