July 20, 2004

Bill to prevent teen suicide

The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, sponsored by Oregon senator Gordon Smith in honor of his late son, would allow $60 million dollars in funding to help states develop suicide prevention strategies and create more mental health services on college campuses.

21-year-old Garrett Smith committed suicide in his apartment last year. He suffered from bipolar disorder and various learning disabilities.

Suicide is an all-too-common tragic end for people suffering from severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression. According to Dr. E. Fuller Torrey in his book "Surviving Schizophrenia, "suicide is the number one cause of premature death among schizophrenics" (p. 271, 3rd ed).

Several senators were touched by senator Smith's grief-filled account of his son's death, and shared their own personal experiences with the suicide of a loved one. The Senate unanimously passed the bill within hours of its introduction. It has not yet been brought to vote in the House.

One high-profile supporter of the measure was Senator Pete Domenici, who had originally gone home at the time of the vote, but quickly returned to show his support. Domenici is the author of the Mental Health Parity act, and said he will make another effort to push it through in the near future.

For the full news article, see MedicineNet.com

Article: "Senate Suicide Bill Passes" (July 9, 2004).

For more information on suicide prevention and community crisis resources, see 'Preventing Suicide' on the schizophrenia.com website.

For more information on recent mental health legislation (authored by Pete Domenici and Paul Wellstone), see the following news articles on the schizophrenia.com newsblog:

"An Advocate's Opinion: Equitable Treatment Act" (concerning the Paul Wellstone Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act). entry date: June 27, 2004

"When Politics is Personal" - Senator Pete V. Domenici and the shaping of the US govt. policies on brain diseases/mental illness.
Entry date: Schizophrenia update newsletter, Feb 2003 issue.


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