Cortez Masto: We Should Strive for Suicide Prevention & Awareness Every Day
Washington, D.C. – Nevada has the 11th highest rate of suicide in the United States, nearly double the national rate. U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) released the following statement to conclude September as Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month:
“For too long this nation hasn’t paid enough attention to the mental health crisis devastating American families. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, but the 8th leading cause for Nevadans across the Silver State. The crisis is more dire among our kids and communities of color: suicide is the leading cause of death among children between the ages of 12-19. This is completely unacceptable. We must begin to change the national conversation and end the stigma around mental health, educate communities on how to prevent suicide, and deliver the resources people need to stay healthy. Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month may be over, but the work continues every day of the year. I’ll continue working in Congress to ensure that we have the funding necessary to help Nevadans and provide mental health resources to reduce this epidemic.”
In 2018, one person died by suicide every 13 hours on average in Nevada. Senator Cortez Masto continues to be a staunch advocate for an expansion of mental health resources. She:
- Joined early calls to Senate leadership outlining additional mental health resources that should be included in any forthcoming coronavirus package. The letter urges Congress to make significant, specific investments in mental and behavioral health in the next COVID-19 relief package to help address and plan for the short, medium, and long-term impacts of this pandemic on our nation’s collective mental health.
- Announced a $1,800,000 grant to the Nevada Department of Education to fund programs to increase mental health education. Working alongside state and community partners, the Department of Education will use the funds to increase mental health awareness, screening, and connections to community-based mental health services.
- Led a group of Senate colleagues in introducing the Mental Health Equity Act of 2020 to address the issues of suicide and mental health in youth with a focus on those in socially and economically disadvantaged communities.
- Announced a grant award as part of the Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act Program, which helps improve the delivery of and access to mental health and wellness services for law enforcement through training and technical assistance, demonstration projects, implementation of promising practices related to peer mentoring mental health and wellness, and suicide prevention programs.
- Recently celebrated the passage into law of the Law Enforcement Suicide Data Collection Act, which will track law enforcement suicides and use the anonymous data collected to improve mental health intervention and decrease these unnecessary deaths.
- Passed the Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support (COPS) Counseling Act through the Senate, which will help provide mental health support to law enforcement by encouraging the adoption of peer counseling programs, while protecting the privacy of federal officers who participate.
- Introduced a bicameral resolution in July to designate the month of July as BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month, a resolution to bring awareness to the disparities in the incidence of mental health-related challenges faced by black, indigenous and people of color and encourages Congress to act to address the systemic drivers of those disparities through culturally-informed mental health services.
- Introduced the Virtual Peer Support Act in August to help peer behavioral health support programs transition to an online setting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- As part of her Virtual Nevada Tour, Senator Cortez Masto hosted a virtual roundtable discussion with behavioral health peer support specialists, providers and organizations supporting Nevadans with mental health treatment.
- Introduced the Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) Act a new bill to help states adopt mobile crisis response teams that can be dispatched when a person is experiencing a mental health or substance use disorder (SUD) crisis instead of immediately involving law enforcement.
- Recently joined U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Senate colleagues in demanding accessible, comprehensive, and culturally competent mental health care and related services for American Indian and Alaska Native youth during the coronavirus pandemic.
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