Sen. Carper Co-Sponsors Reauthorization of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act to Prevent Youth Suicide

WASHINGTON – This week, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) agreed to co-sponsor the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization of 2011 (S.740), a bill to help prevent youth suicide. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) is the primary sponsor of the bill, and Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are also co-sponsors.

The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act currently supports youth suicide prevention grants in 35 states, 16 tribes or tribal organizations, and at 38 institutions of higher education. Delaware currently has a Garrett Lee Smith grant, under which the state receives $500,000 a year. The grant was awarded to the State Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Families in September 2008 for three years.

“Reauthorizing this important law will allow Delaware to continue strengthening its programs for mental and behavioral health services,” said Sen. Carper. “We have a responsibility to give young people across Delaware – and across the country – the tools they need to get help in times of need, and this act deepens our commitment to preventing suicides and providing high quality health services.”

The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization bill authorizes the federal government to award up to $45 million in grant funding annually to help states and institutions to prevent youth suicide. The reauthorization of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act will:

  • Help improve access to counseling for teens at-risk for suicide;
  • Promote the development of early intervention and prevention strategies for suicide; and
  • Increase federal funding for competitive grants to help colleges, universities, and Native American tribes improve mental and behavioral health counseling services.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death on college campuses and the third-leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults between the ages of 10 and 24, resulting in 4,400 lives lost each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 150,000 young adults are treated annually for self-inflicted injuries at emergency rooms nationwide.