Senate Adopts Thune Provisions to Address Youth Suicide, Aid in Prevention Effort


Senate Adopts Thune Provisions to Address Youth Suicide, Aid in Prevention Effort  

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Indian youth in Indian Health Service areas, with a death rate four times the national average.”

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressWASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) applauded the Senate’s adoption of his amendments to the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), a bill that would reduce federal interference in education, and put governors, school boards, parents, and teachers back in charge. Thune’s amendments would require the secretary of education to coordinate with other federal agencies to report on efforts to address youth suicides in Indian Country and expand the use of Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) funds to include preventative efforts against youth suicide and other school violence.

“There is no greater tragedy for a family than losing a child, sibling, or friend, especially to suicide,” said Thune. “Sadly, according the Indian Health Service, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Indian youth in Indian Health Service areas, with a death rate four times the national average. While there is a wide range of known factors that contribute to youth suicide, I think it’s important for us to get a better understanding of how we can better address both prevention and response to suicide in Indian Country.”

Thune’s amendment would require, within 90 days from the date of enactment, the secretary of education to coordinate with the secretary of interior and secretary of health and human services to report on a variety of information, including:

  • The federal response to the occurrence of high numbers of student suicide in Indian Country
  • A list of federal resources available to prevent and respond to student suicide outbreaks, including the availability and use of tele-behavioral health
  • Interagency collaboration efforts to streamline access to programs, including information on how the Departments of Education, Interior, and Health and Human Services work together on program administration
  • Any existing barriers to timely program implementation or interagency collaboration
  • Recommendations to improve or consolidate existing programs or resources
  • Tribal feedback to the federal response

The Senate also adopted Thune’s amendment that would expand the authorized use of Project SERV funds to include initiating or strengthening prevention activities in cases of chronic trauma or violence, such as the suicide crisis in Indian Country or gang violence in schools.

Local educational agencies and institutions of higher education seeking approval to initiate or strengthen prevention activities would be required to:

  • Demonstrate a continued disruption or a substantial risk of disruption to the learning environment that would be addressed by such activity
  • Provide an explanation of proposed activities designed to restore and preserve the learning environment
  • Provide a budget and budget narrative

Such requests would be subject to the discretion of the secretary and the availability of funds.

Thune also introduced amendments to ECAA that would exempt K-12 schools and higher education institutions from Obamacare’s employer mandate, allow Tribal Grant Schools to participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, and provide parity for tribal colleges to compete for certain funding sources. These amendments were not adopted during the Senate’s consideration of ECAA.


9 thoughts on “Senate Adopts Thune Provisions to Address Youth Suicide, Aid in Prevention Effort”

  1. “The Every Child Achieves Act does not go far enough in reducing the counterproductive federal mandates currently dictating K-12 education. Washington bureaucrats will still have a substantial say in curriculum development, school testing and assessment decisions – functions best handled by states and local school districts. Unfortunately, this bill misses an opportunity to give responsibility back to those who best know the unique needs of students, families and educators.”
    —Republican U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (Kansas)

    This is No Child Left Behind 2.0, and fourteen Republicans voted against it, but Thune cast the wrong vote again.

  2. it looks like thune got some important amendments included in a bill that was on a fast track to passage in this senate. hmmm, thune or fourteen empty grandstanders? i’ll take thune thanks.

  3. How about we address the basic reason for all the ills on the reservations, including suicide. Get RID of the reservation system, bring the Native Americans into full American citizens, not a separate nation, stop the handouts just because the USA expanded into their lands umpteen years ago. This reservation system and govt handouts have destroyed their self-esteem and pride in work. They know they don’t have to do anything and they will be taken care of. At some point in order to grow a child needs to grow up and become responsible for himself; it’s the same with the Native Americans. This is a bandaid without addressing the reason for the depression, hopelessness, etc endemic on the reservations.

  4. The medieval church had an interesting idea about suicide: no funeral, no burial in consecrated ground, no bequests honored or accepted. If you committed suicide you simply ceased to exist. Nobody remembered, honored, or felt sorry for you.
    They probably prevented a lot of suicides that way.

    1. With the decline in the number of those claiming any religious affiliation, I doubt this would work, but it’s an interesting thought.

  5. “They probably prevented a lot of suicides that way.”

    I hope this was sarcasm.

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