U.S. Senate Unanimously Passes Whitehouse-Hawley Police Suicide Prevention Legislation During Police Week

Suicide is leading cause of death for law enforcement officers

Washington, D.C. – The United States Senate yesterday evening unanimously passed bipartisan police suicide prevention legislation sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Josh Hawley (R-MO).  The Supporting and Treating Officers in Crisis (STOIC) Act of 2019 aims to address a major crisis within the law enforcement community: officer suicide.  Senate passage comes during National Police Week, which runs from May 12 through May 18.

Companion legislation is currently being considered by the House Judiciary Committee.

“The things that first responders experience at accidents and crime scenes can be horrifying, and they often face terrible danger,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Helping police officers and firefighters deal with what they must bear to keep the rest of us safe is an important duty we owe.”

“This bill provides much-needed support for the men and women of law enforcement who keep us safe every day,” said Senator Hawley. “I am thrilled to see the overwhelming, bipartisan support for this legislation and hope the House will take action.”

Both Senators Whitehouse and Hawley served as the chief law enforcement officers for their respective states before entering Congress.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers – more than homicides and traffic accidents combined.  According to the nonprofit Blue H.E.L.P., there were 165 confirmed officer suicides in 2018.

The STOIC Act reauthorizes expired grant funding for law enforcement support services.  The legislation also allows grant recipients to use funds to establish suicide-prevention programs and mental health services for law enforcement officers.

Original co-sponsors of the bill include Senators Tillis (R-NC), Klobuchar (D-MN), Durbin (D-IL), Leahy (D-VT), Blackburn (R-TN), Blumenthal (D-CT), Cotton (R-AR), Cornyn (R-TX), Hirono (D-HI), and Scott (R-FL).

The bill has been endorsed by law enforcement and mental health advocacy groups, including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, National Sheriffs’ Association, Major County Sheriffs of America, National Association of Police Organizations, National Fraternal Order of Police, Sergeants Benevolent Association of the New York City Police Department, National District Attorneys Association, and International Association of Chiefs of Police.