At the beginning of the school year, due to the continuing pandemic, families focused on their children’s safe return to class. However, this pandemic has exacerbated a crisis that existed prior. Across the country, local emergency departments are recording dramatic increases in all mental health emergencies, including suspected suicide attempts. Our country is currently witnessing soaring rates of mental health challenges among our children and it is inextricably tied to the stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Childhood mental health concerns and suicide rates have steadily risen in the last decade. By 2018, suicide became the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association have officially declared a national emergency in children and adolescent mental health. Additionally, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory report to highlight the current youth mental health crisis in correlation with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention Act (STANDUP Act) is the first federal legislation providing uniform research-based suicide prevention and awareness standards in schools to address the mental health needs of students. The bill currently has 46 bipartisan sponsors (38 Democrats and 8 Republicans).
PTA calls on Congress and the Administration to immediately address the many factors that contribute to the mental health crisis in the United States. Our association strongly encourages efforts that establish comprehensive community mental health. In addition, our organization supports all programs and projects that educate and inform parents, students and the general public about youth suicide prevention and support services for survivors of a suicide attempt.
The STANDUP Act has already passed in the Senate. Now it is the House of Representatives’ turn to cast the final vote! Take action today and urge your representative to vote to prioritize youth suicide prevention and vote “Yes” on the STANDUP Act!