Smith conceded the close race to Democrat Jeff Merkley this morning. A video of his comments captures a touching moment of him and his wife Sharon, both champions of the suicide prevention movement in America, standing side-by-side as he answers a question about his proudest accomplishment in Congress.
If you had to single one out, it would be the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. This [serving in the Senate] is a job that takes its toll on families, and in my son’s name, we were able to do a great thing that is every week saving the life of a young person. I’m very proud of that.
The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush in October 2004, 13 months after the Smiths’ son died of suicide. The legislation provides funding to states and tribes as well as to colleges for youth suicide prevention programs, and it also supports the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, which provides technical assistance to suicide prevention projects in communities across the country.
Sen. Smith wrote a book about his son in 2006, Remembering Garrett. In the prologue, he says
In writing this book, in becoming a soldier in the battle against youth suicide, I am violating the last thing Garrett asked of me. He wrote in his suicide note, “Put me in the ground and forget about me.”
Forgive me, son, but I cannot forget about you. This is our story.
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[Related SPNAC post: “Several Mental Health Champions Missing from 111th Congress“