Congress has passed a bill authorizing $82 million over three years to support efforts to prevent suicide among youths.
The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act is named for the 21-year-old son of Sen. Gordon H. Smith, R-Ore., who committed suicide last year. The federal dollars are meant to provide screening, assessment, and counseling of children and young adults in schools, foster care, the juvenile-justice system, and substance-abuse and mental-health programs.
Suicides of Americans ages 10 to 24 claim more than 3,000 lives a year, according to the office of Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio. Last year. Sens. Dodd and DeWine co-chaired a hearing in which Sen. Smith testified about his son’s death.
In a statement last month, Sen. Dodd said he wished the bill were unnecessary. Youth suicide is “a tragedy that knows no geographic, racial, ethnic, cultural, or socioeconomic boundaries,” he said.
Both the Senate and House passed the bill on Sept. 9. President Bush has not yet signed the measure.