Sandy Hook Promise Celebrates Passage of Youth Suicide Prevention Legislation by the United States House of Representatives

Sandy Hook Promise Celebrates Passage of Youth Suicide Prevention Legislation by the United States House of Representatives

PR Newswire

NEWTOWN, Conn., Sept. 30, 2020

House of Representatives Votes Unanimously in Favor of the STANDUP Act (H.R. 7293)

NEWTOWN, Conn., Sept. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of the Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act of 2020. The bill encourages states to expand access to evidence-based suicide prevention training to students in grades 6 through 12.   

(PRNewsfoto/Sandy Hook Promise)
(PRNewsfoto/Sandy Hook Promise)

“I can’t think of a better way to recognize National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month than the House of Representatives voting to expand access to evidence-based suicide prevention programs for young people. It’s more important than ever to prioritize this kind of training,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. “We are deeply grateful to the bipartisan sponsors of the STANDUP Act—Representatives Scott Peters (D-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA— who championed this life-saving legislation.”

“Teaching students and school personnel to understand and recognize signs of violent or suicidal ideation in youth and their peers is crucial to stem the crises of youth suicide and violence,” said Rep. Peters. “Early prevention can mean the difference between life or death, and giving schools the tools they need to prevent and react to threats before tragedy occurs ensures we are protecting our children and school safety.”

“There is no higher priority than keeping our children safe.  By providing high quality screening and prevention training to school staff and peers, we can identify threats before they materialize, and ensure that those who are at risk get the mental health treatment they need,” said Rep. Bilirakis.

In addition to the STANDUP Act, the House voted in favor of three other suicide prevention bills supported by Sandy Hook Promise to help prevent youth suicide:

  • Mental Health Services for Students Act (H.R. 1109), which would provide funding for public schools across the country to partner with local mental health professionals to establish on-site mental health care services for students;

  • Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act (H.R. 4861) which would assist emergency departments to develop better suicide risk protocols through the Department of Health and Human Services; and

  • Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act of 2019 (H.R. 5469), the first comprehensive federal legislation to addresses increasing suicide rates and mental health disorders among Black youth by providing grants for culturally appropriate mental health services in schools and community settings.

In June, Arriana Gross, a high school junior in Covington, Georgia and a Sandy Hook Promise Youth Advisory Board member, spoke to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee during a hearing on mental health about the importance of addressing teen suicide and mental wellness. In her testimony, Arriana asked the Committee to

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His Whole House founder Molly McNamara shares her story of loss to build suicide awareness


Trying to navigate through a maze blind without legs — this is how Molly McNamara describes the feelings of pain and hopelessness accompanying the trauma of suicide.

McNamara is the founder and executive director of the Cypress-based nonprofit His Whole House, a ministry that uses a faith-based approach to help trauma survivors. The organization works to “break the cycle of trauma and shame” through training, mentoring and counseling. Among its clients are people whose loved ones have attempted or carried out suicide, as well as individuals who may themselves struggle with suicidal thoughts.


“We are not a crisis intervention ministry…however, what I’ve come to understand is there is a long-term recovery period for all of us — including myself,” said McNamara, who had herself overcome attempts of suicide as a teenager.



As a suicide survivor, McNamara will be sharing her story of loss and resilience during a live online talk Sept. 30 in observance of National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.


On March 31, 1998, McNamara said she received the most horrendous news of her life — her son, Adam Thomas, had died of suicide.

“It was in that moment that I became the most reluctant survivor of suicide and truly felt a very, very dark cloud come over,” she said. “It had been one of several traumas that had occurred within a short period of time. I’d lost both my parents just months before…and this was my only living child. It was something that took me to the bottom of my ability to function and I felt as if I was in a maze, blind without legs.”


She lived in the oppressive shadow of that dark cloud for 11 years. She finally came to recognize that what she’d experienced was trauma — the trauma of loss. She founded His Whole House in 2010.

“When I came out of the silence of my own pain and trauma and started the 501(c)3, my intention was

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