Sending Office: Honorable Gus M. Bilirakis
H.R. 4861, the Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act
Endorsed By: American College of Emergency Physicians; American Art Therapy Association; American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work; American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry;
American Dance Therapy Association; American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; American Group Psychotherapy Association; American Nurses Association; American Occupational Therapy Association; American Psychiatric Association; American Psychiatric Nurses
Association; American Psychological Association; Anxiety and Depression Association of America; Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare; Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; Clinical Social Work Association; College of
Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP); Confederation of Independent Psychoanalytic Societies; Council on Social Work Education; Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance; Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action; Emergency Nurses Association;
Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice; International OCD Foundation; The Jewish Federations of North America; The Kennedy Forum; Mental Health America; National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); The National Alliance to Advance Adolescent
Health; National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health (NACBH); National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors; National Association of Rural Mental Health (NARMH); National Association of Social Workers; National
Eating Disorders Association; National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health; National Register of Health Service Psychologists; Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America; School Social Work Association of America; SMART Recovery;
Treatment Communities of America; The Trevor Project
Since 2001, the suicide rate in the United States has jumped by a shocking 31%, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death and claiming an estimated 47,000 lives annually.
A 2016 study found that 11% of all emergency department patients exhibited suicidal ideation. However, only 3% of those patients were diagnosed by current screening tools. Furthermore, about 70% of patients who leave the emergency department after a suicide
attempt never attend their first outpatient follow-up appointment. These sobering statistics make it clear that we need improved methods for identifying and assessing the suicide risks of emergency department patients.
H.R. 4861, the Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act would create a voluntary grant program within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to assist emergency departments in developing protocols for identifying,
assessing and treating individuals at risk for suicide. In granting awards, HHS can give preference to either critical access hospitals or hospitals located in a geographic area with a suicide risk that is higher than the national rate. Each grant lasts for
two years and grantees must submit a report annually on their efforts to improve the identification, assessment and discharge polices for individuals who are at risk for suicide. HHS will submit a report to Congress on the results of the program within a year
of the program’s completion.
This proactive approach is vital because emergency departments are often the first, and sadly too often the only, point of contact within the healthcare system for those most at risk for suicide, such as individuals living with severe mental health conditions
or substance use disorders. As part of Congress’ long-term commitment to addressing our nation’s broken mental healthcare system, it is critical we enhance the procedures surrounding the discharge of patients who have attempted suicide or exhibit suicidal
ideation to maximize the likelihood that they obtain appropriate follow-up care. This bill is the first step in making that happen.
If you are interested in cosponsoring H.R. 4861 or would like more information, please contact Shayne Woods (Shayne.Woods@mail.house.gov) with Rep. Bilirakis or Sahil Chaudhary with Rep. Engel (S.Chaudhary@mail.house.gov).
Gus M. Bilirakis Eliot L. Engel
Member of Congress Member of Congress
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