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June 03, 2023

Congress stepping in to reduce suicide, working to create grants for nets on bridges

Credit: Augusta Free Press

A group of bipartisan legislators have reintroduced the Barriers to Suicide Act to create grants for state and local governments to fund nets and barriers on bridges, which have been shown to reduce suicide.

“The Barriers To Suicide Act is commonsense, bipartisan legislation that would strengthen America’s response to the epidemic of suicide,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). “As national awareness of the efficacy of suicide prevention barriers rises, Congress can help by stepping up to provide critical funding for this proven method for state and local governments to save lives. I urge my colleagues to support this bill and will continue to pursue legislative solutions to prevent suicide.”

Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) said Congress must work to reduce death by suicide.

“Nets and other barriers on bridges are proven to be effective at preventing suicide-by-jumping. Our Barriers to Suicide Act would create a grant program to support the implementation of those kind of deterrent measures,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “As co-chair of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force, I am proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in leading this bill that will save lives.”

The Barriers To Suicide Act would establish a competitive grant program for states and localities to apply for federal funding to install nets and barriers on bridges. Project funding would also be made explicitly eligible under the National Highway Performance Program. This bill would also authorize a study to identify additional strategies to reduce jumping deaths.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 48,000 Americans died by suicide in 2021. Falling deaths are a common cause of suicide, and restricting access to lethal means allows time for a feeling of crisis to pass, allowing people experiencing suicidal thoughts to seek help.

Studies show that installing physical barriers and nets on bridges commonly used for suicide, for instance San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, can save lives.

The Barriers to Suicide Act is cosponsored by Reps. Jamaal Bowman, Tony Cárdenas, Emanuel Cleaver, Jasmine Crockett, Madeleine Dean, Mark DeSaulnier, Barbara Lee, Stephen Lynch, Gwen Moore, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamie Raskin, Lori Trahan, David Trone, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Susan Wild, Nikema Williams, Marcy Kaptur, and Darren Soto.

It is endorsed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, RI International, the Kennedy Forum, the American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists, the National League for Nursing, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and the American Psychological Association.