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Engel Suicide Prevention Bill Passes House

Engel Suicide Prevention Bill Passes House

Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act
allocates $100 million to support emergency department programs to prevent suicides

Congressman Eliot Engel (NY-16) today lauded House passage of H.R. 4861, the Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in Emergency Department Act, legislation he co-authored with Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) that aims to improve the identification, assessment and treatment of patients in emergency departments who are at high risk of suicide.

“I’m very proud that we were able to get this bipartisan bill passed today,” Engel said. “Especially now, in these very difficult times, we need to pay extra special attention to helping our family, friends and neighbors who are struggling with suicidal ideation. Passage of our bill today sends a clear signal—especially to our colleagues in the Senate—that the time to act on suicide prevention is now.”

The Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act will provide $100 million over a five-year period to support emergency department programs to prevent suicides specifically by:

·         Training emergency department clinicians to identify patients with an elevated risk of suicide

·         Developing programs to coordinate the care and follow-up of those with an elevated risk of suicide

·         Supporting the recruitment and retainment of behavioral health professionals who specialize in treating individuals experiencing suicidal ideation

·         Incentivizing the development of new approaches such as telehealth to help those at a high risk of suicide

Speaking on the House Floor prior to the vote, Congressman Engel urged swift passage of the measure, which he said will greatly help emergency workers in identifying and treating at-risk patients.  

“Studies show that as many as 11 percent of all patients visiting a hospital emergency department are at-risk for suicide, but only a fraction of these at-risk patients are ever identified,” said Engel. “Our bill aims to improve the identification, assessment and treatment of patients in emergency departments who are at high risk of suicide.”

The Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in Emergency Department Act has been endorsed by over 40 mental health advocacy groups including: Emergency Nurses Association, American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Nurses Association, the Kennedy Forum, National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America.

Full transcript of Congressman Engel’s Floor remarks can be found below (as prepared for delivery):

“Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 4861, the Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act. 

I authored this legislation –with my colleague Gus Bilirakis –to help reduce rates of suicides in the United States.

“Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States.  It claimed more than 47,000 lives in 2017 alone.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the suicide rate in the U.S. increased by an alarming 31 percent from 2001 to 2017.  And in this time of COVID , where the pandemic has taken an untold physical and emotional toll on Americans, health officials are reporting surges in mental and behavioral health problems.

“Studies show that as many as 11 percent of all patients visiting a hospital emergency department are at-risk for suicide, but only a fraction of these at-risk patients are ever identified.

Our bill aims to improve the identification, assessment and treatment of patients in emergency departments who are at high risk of suicide.  It will provide $100 million over a five-year period to support emergency department programs to prevent suicides specifically by:

·         Training emergency department clinicians to identify patients with an elevated risk of suicide

·         Developing programs to coordinate the care and follow-up of those with an elevated risk of suicide

·         Supporting the recruitment and retainment of behavioral health professionals who specialize in treating individuals with suicidal tendencies

·         Incentivizing the development of new approaches such as telehealth to help those at a high risk of suicide

“This legislation has been endorsed by over 40 mental health advocacy groups including: the Emergency Nurses Association, the American Nurses Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the Kennedy Forum, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Mental Health America.

“Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support the legislation.

“I yield back the balance of my time.”