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Murphy, Blumenauer Introduce Bipartisan Suicide Prevention Resolution

September 9, 2016

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA) introduced a bipartisan resolution to recognize September as National Suicide Prevention Month. Primarily, H. Res. 850 seeks to spread awareness and recognize suicide as a preventable and national public health crisis and to promote awareness about mental health, because where there is help, there is hope. 

“Suicide is a national crisis and a tragedy that has touched many families, including my own,” said Blumenauer. “Let’s all make the commitment to make September – and every month – suicide prevention month because there’s so much at stake for those we hold dear.”

“According to the Center for Disease Control, there is a suicide every 12 minutes – this is the result of mental health being pushed into the shadows of shame and stigma for decades,” said Murphy. “I am proud to join Rep. Blumenauer and my colleagues in Congress to bring awareness to suicide and mental health.”

Click here to watch Congressman Blumenauer’s remarks on the resolution on the House floor today. Here is a full transcript:

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to follow my good friend Dr. Murphy on the floor. I appreciate his tireless efforts in terms of mental health, in terms of suicide prevention. I was pleased, this week, to introduce with him legislation to designate September as National Suicide Prevention Month.

“We have this ritual of designating certain days, weeks, and months in honor of both issues that are momentous, sometimes arcane, but this one is existential.

“We are looking at a time perhaps of great division in Congress, but in American society suicide prevention ought to be a great unifier. We lose five lives every hour to a cause that is treatable and preventable. The nature of the suicide epidemic, which has been increasing every year for the last decade, has the power to unite and bring people together to make a difference.

“I applaud him [Dr. Murphy] for the work on the mental health legislation. I hope that we are all encouraged and emboldened as particularly it relates to our Veterans, and his work there is commendable.

“We are losing almost a Veteran an hour to suicide. It’s also the second leading cause of death among young people ages of 10 and 34, and yet people who commit suicide almost always show symptoms that could be diagnosed and treated.

“In addition to the tragic disruption on individuals and family, it’s estimated that suicide results in $44 billion in combined economic and work costs.

“It is a national crisis and a tragedy that has touched almost every family I know.

“The area of suicide prevention is one of shared passions that can contribute to solutions. For mental health professionals, it is rich with possibilities.

“If you’re concerned about gun violence, this is an area of opportunity. Those who attempt suicide with a firearm are successful about 85% of the time.

“Drug and alcohol abuse is a factor in many cases, due to the underlying substance abuse issues, individual actions clouded by the influence of drugs or alcohol when suicide is attempted.

“There’s a role for each and every one of us to play as advocates, as individuals for treatment and suicide prevention counseling, recovering, to support the grief of family members left behind.

“I’m excited about the network of organizations across the country often with major volunteer input who are making a difference. I visited one recently in my community, Lines for Life, that has volunteers manning 24-hour phone lines to help people in a time of crisis. It’s overseen by licensed clinicians; they handle, this one volunteer-driven organization, nearly 55,000 calls offering immediate assistance to people who want to overcome substance abuse, prevent suicide and find treatment for happier, more productive lives.

“Mr. Speaker, I am hopeful that we will in fact designate as Suicide Prevention Month, September, but that every month will be suicide prevention month and that we will all rededicate ourselves to combating this epidemic that touches lives in every one of our communities.”