House committee hears suicide bill


U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel wants to ensure there’s more help for those who are considered a high risk for suicide, recently attending a House committee hearing on a bill he authored addressing that very issue.

H.R. 4861, also known as the Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act, would allocate $100 million over a five-year period to support emergency departments to prevent suicides, according to a release from Engel’s office.

Specifically, the bill endeavors to train emergency department clinicians to identify patients with an elevated risk of suicide, develop programs to coordinate the care and follow-up of those with an elevated risk of suicide, support the recruitment and retaining of behavioral health professionals who specialize in treating individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts, and incentivizing the development of new approaches — such as telehealth — to help those at a high risk of suicide.

“Before the coronavirus pandemic, suicide rates were rising in New York and across the country, making them the 10th leading cause of death,” Engel said, in a release. “There is a growing consensus among public health experts that the pandemic — which has torn families apart, taken livelihoods, and inflicted untold economic hardship — could lead to more suicides. My bipartisan legislation would equip our nation’s emergency departments to fight this epidemic.”

The bill has been endorsed by more than 40 mental health advocacy groups, Engel added.


Cabrera still riding high on e-bikes bill

It took a couple years, but Councilman Fernando Cabrera is still celebrating the passage of his city legislation legalizing e-bikes, e-scooters and even authorizing an e-scooter share pilot program.

“It’s time to recognize and act on solutions to transit inequity, social injustice and transit alternatives that take cars off the road and decrease air pollution,” Cabrera said, in a release. “This is extremely important, especially in communities like my district, with some of the highest rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses in the state.”