WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure to increase funding for youth suicide prevention championed by Future Forum, an influential group of young Democratic Members of Congress who advocate for issues and opportunities important to younger Americans. The measure, introduced by Future Forum chair Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and included in a larger government funding bill passed by the House, increases federal funding by $2 million for the Garrett Lee Smith Youth Suicide Prevention grant program, which funds education and support services for vulnerable students in K-12 schools, colleges and universities, foster care systems, and juvenile justice systems. It was passed on the House floor with broad bipartisan support.
“As a mother, it breaks my heart to think of losing a child to suicide. There is more we can do to treat and prevent this mental health problem,” said Future Forum chair Murphy. “As chair of Future Forum, I will keep leading the effort in Congress to resolve this growing public health crisis and help schools and college campuses save lives.”
“Young people are our nation’s future—and the youth suicide levels today are a public health crisis that must be addressed urgently, especially in rural areas and amongst the farming community where suicide rates are nearly four times the rate of urban areas and other professions,” said Future Forum vice chair Rep. Antonio Delgado. “I’m glad to see bipartisan support for an increased investment in proven programs to address youth suicide rates and ensure schools are equipped to assist students experiencing depression and anxiety. I will continue to work with my Future Forum colleagues to advocate for programs to address youth suicide in Upstate New York and across the country.”
“This is about standing up for young Iowans and families who aren’t getting the mental health services they need to stay healthy and safe,” said Future Forum vice chair Rep. Abby Finkenauer. “I’ll keep working to make sure they are not left behind in Iowa or in Congress.”
“Youth suicide is a national crisis that demands national attention,” said Future Forum vice chair Rep. Jimmy Gomez. “Last year, 1 out of every 10 Latinas between the ages of 10 and 24 tried to take their own life. These numbers are as shocking as they are tragic and underscore the need for sizable investments in our mental health system. As we work together to address this crisis on the federal level, let us erase the stigma associated with mental illness, teach our children there is no shame in navigating through dark times, and assure them that they are not alone.”
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth in the United States. A recent study shows that the suicide rate among 15- to 24-year-olds soared in 2017 to its highest point in nearly two decades. From 1999 to 2017, approximately 22,000 young people between the ages of 10 to 19 died by suicide. Additionally, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that the number of people reporting symptoms of major depression increased 52 percent among those aged 12 to 17 and increased 63 percent among those aged 18 to 25 over the past decade.
Besides Murphy and Future Forum vice chairs Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.), Abby Finkenauer (D-Ind.), and Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), the measure was cosponsored by Future Forum members Nannette Barragán (D-Calif.), Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Katie Hill (D-Calif.), Ben McAdams (D-UT), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.), Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), Michael San Nicolas (D-GU), Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Max Rose (D-N.Y.), Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Darren Soto (D-Fla.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Haley Stevens (D-Mich.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.).
Earlier this month, Future Forum members sent a letter to House Appropriators to draw attention to this crisis. Since its inception, Future Forum has visited 47 cities in an effort to engage with millennial and Gen Z Americans where they live, work, and go to school on issues important to them.