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Back to Nov. Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 226 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS NOVEMBER 2004

Congress Passes Bill On Suicide Prevention
Rep. Garrett 
Rep. Garrett opposed
Congress approved legislation in September to set aside $82 million over the next three years for programs aimed at preventing youth suicide. The money would go to states, Indian tribes, colleges and universities to develop suicide prevention and intervention programs.

During the House debate, some lawmakers questioned the effectiveness of suicide-prevention programs, saying some end up doing more harm than good. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) cited the example of a Michigan 2nd-grade boy who killed himself after watching a film in a suicide-prevention class. People who knew the boy said he was not depressed at the time of his death and may have been copying what he saw in the film, Garrett said.

In the movie shown in the suicide-prevention class, the boy who tried to hang himself was rescued by his friends. "In real life that did not occur," Garrett pointed out. (Associated Press, 9-9-04)

Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) sponsored the bill as a tribute to his son, who killed himself at age 22 a year before the vote. Reps. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) and Bart Stupak (D-MI) have also lost teenage sons to suicide.

Suicide education was a big issue in 1980s, but efforts to appropriate federal funds failed after expert testimony and studies showed that classroom courses did no good for children and could increase the risk of suicide. (See Education Reporter, Apr.-May 1987.)


 
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