Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) this week was honored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and was presented with a Congressional Award for his work in championing policies to combat suicide.
“Our Nation must improve and reform our mental health care system and continue to work together in confronting the tragedy of suicide. I thank the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for its tremendous advocacy on behalf of the many individuals and families struggling with this issue. The support network and grassroots team have worked with us in Congress to advance meaningful legislation and make a positive difference in the fight to prevent suicide,” said Lance, a member of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee after the special ceremony.
Lance was specifically cited for his leadership in introducing the Excellence in Mental Health Act which was signed into law by the President last year. The measure ensures that Mental Health Parity is a reality by improving quality and expanding access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment through community mental health clinics. The legislation established a two-year demonstration program in eight states to offer a broad range of mental health and substance use disorder services like 24-hour crisis psychiatric services while setting new high standards for providers. Lance also championed an amendment to the fiscal year 2016 defense appropriations measure that would reinstate funding for a successful suicide prevention hotline for New Jersey veterans. That program had been slated for terminated by the Pentagon until Lance and others intervened.
“For six years we have been honoring members of Congress and policymakers who have helped us push suicide prevention to the forefront of our legislative process. With contributions like Representative Lance’s, we are much closer to achieving our goal of reducing the suicide rate 20 percent by the year 2025,” said John Madigan, AFSP vice president of public policy. “This award recognizes the invaluable contributions made by Congressman Lance, and allows local community members, who have lost a family member to suicide, to show their gratitude for his leadership in suicide prevention and access to mental health services.”
Each year in the United States, suicide claims over 41,000 lives and on average, one person dies by suicide every 12 hours in New Jersey, according to the Foundation.