**Shaheen & Nashua Police Chief Carignan Raise Awareness of the High Rate of Suicide Among First Responders**
(Washington, DC)—U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued the following statement after the President’s State of the Union address. Senator Shaheen invited Nashua Police Chief Michael Carignan to be her guest for the President’s State of the Union address to raise awareness about the mental health challenges that many law enforcement and other first responders face as a result of the stress and trauma that they experience on the job. Following the tragic suicide of Nashua Police Captain Jon Lehto in September, Chief Carignan and Captain Lehto’s family bravely chose to shine a spotlight on the crisis of suicide among law enforcement and first responders. A record number of U.S. law enforcement officers died by suicide last year according to Blue H.E.L.P., a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that works to reduce mental health stigmas for police.
“I was honored to have Chief Carignan with me at the State of the Union to help raise awareness of the needs of officers who are struggling with mental health. Law enforcement officers are exposed to tremendous stress and trauma while protecting our communities, which has only been compounded by the substance use epidemic. Congress and the Trump administration need to devote greater attention to this crisis and I intend to do all I can to get officers, police departments and all first responders the help they need.
“As the President pointed out, the economy is doing well and unemployment is low which are the results of a robust economic recovery that began in 2010. What we still need to address is making sure the economy benefits all Americans as wages have not been able to keep pace with skyrocketing expenses, particularly the cost of prescription drugs, health care, housing and college tuition. These are just some of the kitchen table issues that Americans want to see progress on from Congress and this administration.
"As every community in New Hampshire knows, we are still a long ways away from overcoming the substance use epidemic. I hope the President will get behind proposals, such as my Turn the Tide Act, which would greatly expand access to treatment. We've made significant progress towards delivering more treatment to states like New Hampshire that are hardest hit, but still far too many Granite Staters still cannot get access to the help they need.
“In past State of the Union addresses, President Trump also spoke optimistically about lowering prescription drug costs and rebuilding our nation’s aging infrastructure. However, his administration has yet to put forward any serious proposals that would achieve these goals and many bills that would tackle these problems continue to be held up by Senator McConnell’s obstruction. When the Trump administration is ready to match action with words, I stand ready to work with him to deliver these priorities for the American people who are demanding results.
“I was disappointed that the President didn’t mention the youth vaping epidemic that is a direct threat to the health of our nation’s young people. The administration has recently announced an e-cigarette policy that allows for many flavored e-liquids to remain on the market, allowing e-cigarette manufacturers to continue to entice children to try vaping. I’ve been working across the aisle on proposals that will protect kids and hold e-cigarette companies accountable, and I hope the administration will embrace these bipartisan proposals.”
As the lead Democrat on the appropriations subcommittee that funds the Department of Justice (DOJ), Shaheen included language in the government funding bill that became law in December that requires DOJ to collect national data on law enforcement suicides. This change will help the law enforcement community, policymakers and the public better understand the scope of the issue and trends surrounding these tragic deaths. Shaheen also secured funds to improve mental health services for state and local law enforcement agencies, including resources to reduce stigmas around officers seeking mental health treatment and programs to assist officers in handling repeated exposure to stress and trauma while on the job.