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Beyer, Fitzpatrick, Napolitano Re-Introduce Barriers To Suicide Act

U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Grace Napolitano (D-CA), bipartisan leaders on mental health and suicide prevention, today announced the reintroduction of the Barriers To Suicide Act. The bipartisan legislation would create grants for state and local governments to fund nets and barriers on bridges, which have been shown to reduce suicide.

“The Barriers To Suicide Act is commonsense, bipartisan legislation that would strengthen America’s response to the epidemic of suicide,” said Rep. Don Beyer. “As national awareness of the efficacy of suicide prevention barriers rises, Congress can help by stepping up to provide critical funding for this proven method for state and local governments to save lives. I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and will continue to pursue legislative solutions to prevent suicide.”

“In the midst of the mental health crisis our country is experiencing, Congress must take a comprehensive approach to reduce rising levels of death by suicide. Nets and other barriers on bridges are proven to be effective at preventing suicide-by-jumping. Our Barriers to Suicide Act would create a grant program to support the implementation of those kind of deterrent measures,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “As co-chair of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force, I am proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in leading this bill that will save lives.”

“As Co-chair of the bipartisan Mental Health Caucus, I am proud to co-lead this legislation to create a grant program supporting the installation of suicide deterrent measures, such as nets and other barriers, on bridges,” said Congresswoman Napolitano. “With suicide being one of the leading causes of death in the United States, Congress must act swiftly to support our state partners in combating this crisis and help save lives.”

“Installing nets and physical barriers on bridges and other high structures is a proven effective means of preventing suicides,” said Laurel Stine, J.D., M.A., Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “AFSP applauds Rep. Beyer, Rep. Fitzpatrick, and Rep. Napolitano for their bipartisan leadership on legislation fostering barrier installation, a life-saving suicide prevention measure.”

The Barriers To Suicide Act would establish a competitive grant program for states and localities to apply for federal funding to install nets and barriers on bridges. Project funding would also be made explicitly eligible under the National Highway Performance Program. This bill would also authorize a study to identify additional strategies to reduce jumping deaths.

Over 48,000 Americans died by suicide in 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Falling deaths are a common cause of suicide, and restricting access to lethal means allows time for a feeling of crisis to pass, allowing people experiencing suicidal thoughts to seek help. Studies show that installing physical barriers and nets on bridges commonly used for suicide, for instance San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, can save lives. Suicide prevention advocates have worked to raise awareness of suicide prevention barriers in the national capital region in recent years.

The Barriers to Suicide Act is cosponsored by Reps. Jamaal Bowman, Tony Cárdenas, Emanuel Cleaver, Jasmine Crockett, Madeleine Dean, Mark DeSaulnier, Barbara Lee, Stephen Lynch, Gwen Moore, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamie Raskin, Lori Trahan, David Trone, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Susan Wild, Nikema Williams, Marcy Kaptur, and Darren Soto.

It is endorsed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, RI International, the Kennedy Forum, the American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists, the National League for Nursing, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and the American Psychological Association.

Text of the Barriers To Suicide Act is available here, and a one-pager on the bill is available here.