Policy News & Updates

AFSP works hard to create a world in which people no longer die by suicide. While we understand that suicide is personal and complicated, we also know that thoughtful public policies can reduce the number of suicides.

To help make that happen, we work closely with hundreds of well-informed and passionate advocates, all committed to educating officials at every level of government about suicide, and persuading them to act. 

To ensure that public officials and the general public have the information they need to make informed decisions about suicide, we provide the links below. These links will take you to news and information about advocacy efforts and public policies related to suicide prevention. The links also connect to the work we’re doing here at AFSP, in our Advocacy and Public Policy office, and to our powerful national network of suicide prevention advocates.

AFSP attends forum on Mental Health Reform: Improving Access to Care and Reducing Incarceration


Tim Murphy National Journal

Members of the AFSP Public Policy team attended the National Journal’s “Mental Health Reform: Improving Access to Care and Reducing Incarceration” forum that engaged with topics across the mental health sector, from access to insurance to numbers of providers to the intersection of mental health and the criminal justice system. Congressman Tim Murphy and Senator Chris Murphy addressed the crowd, detailing their efforts in the House and Senate to pass reform legislation, then participated in individual panel sessions. A third panel,  which included officials from Medicaid, the American Psychiatric Association, and several patient advocacy groups, detailed hurdles that providers and patients face when seeking mental health treatment. 

Pennsylvania Out of the Darkness Walk draws big crowd, big names


Charlie Dent Philly Walk web

The AFSP-Greater Lehigh Valley hosted its Out of the Darkness walk on October 4 with great success. Along with thousands of walkers dedicated to ending suicide, elected officials also spoke out, including Congressman Charlie Dent and PA Respresentatives Mike Schlossbeg, Ryan MacKenzie, and Dan McNeill.

AFSP attends POLITICO event on the 21st Century Cures Act


Public Policy Associates Ian Hudson and Sarah Moore attended a POLITICO panel on October 6 pertaining to the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill, which has been passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee but awaits approval from the Senate side, allows for greater patient input in healthcare. The Act provides funding for the National Institutes of Health and would promote an “ecosystem” of health care, where better record keeping allows for more personal healthcare and improved data for research.

Patrick Kennedy breaks the silence - CBS 60 Minutes


The youngest child of Senator Ted Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy was supposed to be the heir apparent to a political dynasty. But after his father died, Patrick resigned from Congress and is now leading a political movement to change the way people view and talk about mental illness and addiction, that he himself suffers from. He says they're medical issues, not moral issues or character flaws. And he wants them treated with the same urgency we treat cancer and heart disease.

AFSP Attends Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Markup of the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act


On Wednesday, September 30, AFSP Public Policy Staff attended the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Markup of S. 1893, the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act of 2015. The bill is a bipartisan effort to move mental health reform forward in America. Included were AFSP public policy priorities such as the Reauthorization of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA), Mental Health Awareness Training, and funding for the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS).

Healtchare values end-of-life wishes through conversation


Nearing end-of-life decisions can be a confusing and painful time for the sick and their family, but it can be made easier by open conversations between physicians and families on what is the best course of action for each individual. Beginning in 2016, Medicare will reimburse doctors who discuss medical options with their patients in order to establish what type of care they do or do not want during their final days. These voluntary end-of-life conversations may become the medical standard, leading to a more patient preferred and approved experience.

AFSP Public Policy Associates Attend the Pope's Visit to Capitol Hill


Sarah Pope web

Pope Francis’ visit to the United States was not easy to ignore—his presence was ubiquitous, with every national and local news station offered their own take on his US tour. For people living in the cities he stopped in, Pope Francis’ visit was all together unavoidable. Roads closed, public transport  was shut down or made worse than usual (which was somehow possible), and the pontiff was the singular talk of the town. 

People with mental illness deserve treatment, not jail


Lack of healthcare, poor access to mental health resources, and other major life stressors can lead to more than mental distress or suicide risk. Without adequate mental health hospitals across the nation, local jails and prisons now hold the greatest concentration of people with mental illness and have no way of treating, supporting, and rehabilitating them.

AFSP Attends Remarks by HHS Secretary Burwell at Howard University


Burwell Howard University 9-22-15

On Tuesday, September 22, the AFSP Public Policy team attended a speech given by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia M. Burwell at Howard University in Washington DC., regarding the upcoming open enrollment period, November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016 for Americans who receive their health insurance through a federal or state insurance exchange.  You can read coverage of the event from the New York Times here.