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 2014 Federal Bullying Prevention Summit


Secretary Duncan and AFSP

On Friday, August 15th, AFSP Vice President of Public Policy, John Madigan and Senior Manager of State Advocacy, Nicole Gibson attended the 2014 Federal Bullying Prevention Summit titled “Keeping Kids Safe: Opportunities and Challenges in Bullying Prevention.”  Hosted by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students in conjunction with the Federal Partners in Bullying Prevention, the summit expanded upon previous years’ goals to craft a national strategy to prevent bullying and focused on engaging private and public organizations committed to ensuring student safety.  The day-long event included plenary sessions on bullying trends, multi-tiered behavioral support frameworks and social and emotional learning, the perspectives of state and local education agencies, cyberbullying, and supportive school discipline. It also included youth-led focus groups and breakout sessions on state and federal laws and policies, a StopBullying.Gov demonstration, media guidelines, and hazing and teen dating violence.

Senate Passes Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014


After the House passed the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 on Wednesday, July 30; the Senate passed the measure on Thursday, July 31, 2014. The bill allows veterans to seek private care and adds $17 billion to the Department of Veterans Affairs to hire doctors to address long wait lists. 

House Passes Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014


On Wednesday, July 30, the United States House of Representatives passed the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. AFSP applauds the House for their action to improve the health care, including mental health care, for veterans that need it. 

Robert McDonald Confirmed by Senate as New Secretary of Veterans Affairs


Bob McDonald

Photo Courtesy of the Associated Press

In a 97-0 vote, the United States Senate confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Robert McDonald, former CEO, President, and Chairman of the Board of Procter & Gamble, to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veteran suicide prevention is one of AFSP’s top priorities and AFSP remains committed to working with Secretary McDonald, Congress, and the White House to ensure our veterans receive the mental health care they fought for and deserve.

Agreement Reached on Compromise Legislation to Reform the VA


Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Jeff Miller (R-FL), the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committee chairmen, held a joint news conference on Monday, July 28, on an agreement they reached on compromise legislation to reform the VA and address the short- and long-term needs of veterans seeking health care. AFSP commends Senator Sanders and Representative Miller for coming together to ensure veterans have access to timely, high quality mental health care.  

AFSP Attends House Veterans Affairs Committee Hearing


On July 24th, 2014, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs held a hearing entitled “Restoring Trust: The View of the Acting Secretary and the Veterans Community.” The members of the committee asked questions of VA officials and leaders in the Veterans community on how the VA can restore trust between it and veterans across the country.

AFSP Attends Congressional Briefing Hosted by the Behavioral Health Information Technology Coalition


BHIT Briefing 7-22-14

Senators Whitehouse and Portman hosted a briefing Tuesday, June 22nd sponsored by Behavioral Health Information Technology Coalition to discuss the necessity of their bills, S. 1517 and S. 1685 respectively, which seek to correct oversight that excludes key providers of behavior health and substance use treatment services from specific categories of incentive fund eligibility that would provide them with much-needed funding to enhance quality of care.

DoD Still Hasn't Released Final 2013 Suicide Numbers


In 2012, the U.S. military hit a record for the number of suicides among troops on active duty — 319 — since the Pentagon began closely tracking the numbers in 2001. Preliminary Pentagon figures issued early this year indicated that figure dropped in 2013 to 261. But no one outside the Defense Department knows for sure.

That’s because as of July 17, DoD has not released any official suicide data for the fourth quarter of 2013. Neither has it published suicide data for the first two quarters of this year.

House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Holds Hearing on “Creating Efficiency through Comparison: An Evaluation of Private Sector Best Practices and the VA Health Care System”


House VA 7-16-14

On Wednesday, July 16th, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing entitled “Creating Efficiency through Comparison: An Evaluation of Private Sector Best Practices and the VA Health Care System.” Witnesses from the private sector shared what has worked best for them and how those experiences could be translated to the Veterans’ Health Administration. Some of their suggestions included increasing the facilities’ hours, give physicians more input, and collaborating more with the private sector facilities to gain space without extra leasing.