Suicide Prevention Month

Floor Speech

By:  Adam Schiff
Date: Sept. 21, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize September as Suicide Prevention Month. With nearly 30,000 Americans losing their lives to suicide each year, far too many of our friends and family members are not receiving the support and assistance so desperately needed. Suicide touches all groups, young and old, and knows no religious or ethnic boundaries. Today, however, I wish to focus on two groups who are disproportionately impacted by suicide.

The first is our veterans--a growing number of suicides comes from within the ranks of those who have served or are serving in our armed forces. For many of our troops, repeated deployments and prolonged combat has exposed them to high amounts of stressi creating invisible wounds that contribute to suicide. These heroes put their lives on the line every day and upon returning, they deserve our support. We need to be there for our armed forces--veteran and active duty service members alike. This is a tragic problem that needs to be urgently addressed but the reality is that there are not any easy answers and this challenge does not offer any quick fixes.

I applaud Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki for marshaling the resources of the U.S. military and the Veterans Administration to attack this tragic epidemic. As we draw down after nearly a decade of war, Secretary Panetta and Secretary Shinseki have committed their departments to not only improve how wars are conducted, but how we address the after-effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and other disabling injuries.

In addition to veterans, we also see that a large portion of suicides are coming from within the LGBT community. LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide and when they are rejected by their families, eight times more likely. With statistics like these, it couldn't be clearer that there is a great need for assistance and support for LGBT youth, as many are often harassed, bullied and subjected to physical violence by their peers.

These stories of harassment are becoming far too familiar. Take Tyler Clementi, a college freshman attending Rutgers University and an accomplished violinist. At the young age of 18, Tyler's privacy was invaded by his dorm roommate. Deciding that the ridicule was too much to bear, Tyler tragically cut his own life short.

For many, solace has been found with the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization in Los Angeles dedicated to providing life-saving resources to young people in the LGBT community. I recently had the honor of meeting with Abbe Land, the Executive Director and CEO of the Trevor Project and witnessed first-hand how the organization handled phone calls from distressed youth from around the country on their around-the-clock suicide prevention lifeline. With over 30,000 calls each year to the Trevor project, their commitment to saving lives is unparalleled.

The problem of suicide has no prejudice or political affiliation. Suicide touches each one of us and forever changes our lives. I am proud to honor the Trevor Project and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline during Suicide Prevention Month as they work tirelessly to prevent the loss of our loved ones who are most in need of support.