Introduction of legislation to reauthorize suicide prevention programs

APA’s government relations team works to support of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act.

APA has been a long-standing supporter of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA) since its creation. Education Government Relations Office staff have worked closely with APA members in the college and university counseling center community to develop and advance the Campus Suicide Prevention Program, which remains a critical part of GLSMA programs. Since 2004, GLSMA has supported youth suicide prevention grants in 49 states, 48 tribes or tribal organizations, and 138 institutions of higher education.

ED GRO staff worked tirelessly for four years to identify bipartisan champions of the legislation in both the House and the Senate. Finally, in January 2013, Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, introduced the legislation in the Senate. In July 2013, Reps. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Danny K. Davis, D-Ill., introduced their own version in the House.

Both bills reauthorize and maintain the GLSMA Youth Suicide Early Intervention and Prevention Strategies Program for States and Tribes, the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Services and Outreach on Campus Program, and the Suicide Prevention Technical Assistance Center. Both pieces of legislation make important changes to the Campus Suicide Prevention Program that will allow for greater flexibility in the uses of funds to better meet the diverse, documented and growing mental health needs of students. APA has advocated for these changes, which are grounded in the surveys and research data developed by APA members and directors of college and university counseling centers.

During the Education Leadership Conference in September 2013, nearly 100 APA members made 150 visits to their congressional delegation, increasing awareness about GLSMA reauthorization and adding 15 additional co-sponsors in the House and four in the Senate from both parties.