President Bush Signs Bill To Fund Youth Suicide Prevention Programs
President Bush on Thursday signed legislation (S 2634) that will allocate $82 million in grants over the next three years for programs to help prevent youth suicide, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. Grant funding awaits full appropriation (Daly, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 10/21). The law -- sponsored by Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), whose son Garrett committed suicide last year -- will provide grants to states, American Indian tribes, colleges and universities to develop youth suicide prevention and intervention programs. The legislation will focus on programs that identify mental illness in children and provide referrals for community-based treatment and education for child care professionals. Under the law, children will have to obtain parental permission before they can participate in suicide prevention programs funded through the legislation. Congress approved the legislation last month -- the House on a 352-64 vote and the Senate by voice vote (California Healthline, 9/10).
Smith, who attended the signing ceremony at the White House with his wife Sharon and their two children, said, "Sharon and I are deeply grateful for the support we've received over the past year. Passing this bill was very personal to us because we wanted some good to come of Garrett's tragedy. There is so much more that can be done, but this is a very strong step forward in helping children and preventing tragedies like the one we experienced" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 10/21).