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Murkowski’s Bill Fighting Youth Suicide Passes Major Hurdle

Alaskans Praising Senator’s Commitment to Saving Lives, Protecting Our Future

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today was proud that components from one of the first bills she co-sponsored this year – the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Reauthorization Act, a bill to combat youth suicide – was passed out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee this morning, as a piece of the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act.

Murkowski’s work and legislation is included through parts of the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act:

  • Early Diagnosis, Intervention and Treatment of At-Risk Youth: The Act that passed committee will authorize grants to states and tribes for professional training, as well as treatment, information campaigns and follow-up evaluations of how these programs are performing.
  • Campus Mental Health/Substance Abuse Disorder Services: The Act also updates the use of funds to allow for the education of students, families, faculty and staff to increase awareness and empower more Alaskans to successfully fight these elements among a particularly vulnerable group.

“When we talk about improving our nation’s future – whether from an economic, cultural, or security perspective – it all begins with protecting our young from the threats they face everyday, including despair and risky behaviors,” said Murkowski.  “Alaska has the highest rate of suicide in the nation, especially among young Alaska Native men, and it is corroding our state’s future culture and potential, while breaking families’ hearts today.  I thank the Committee leadership for working with me to improve the mental health care system of my state and the nation.”

"I am thankful for Senator Murkowski’s diligence in working toward reauthorization of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act,” said Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Chairman/President Andy Tueber. “Alaska Natives, particular young Alaska Native men, have appallingly high rates of suicide.  The Act is an important part of the comprehensive approach the Alaska Tribal Health System is taking to combat the suicide epidemic among Alaska Natives."

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