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.

New Study by University of Wisconsin Finds Hope for Anxiety Disorders


A new study by the University of Wisconsin, Madison has identified a circuit in the brain that is associated with anxious temperament, and this circuit is passed down to offspring. This new finding has the potential to create better-targeted treatments for anxiety and depression.

Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act Reintroduced in Senate


On July 29, 2015, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) reintroduced the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act (S. 1893) in the U.S. Senate, which calls for training for gatekeepers to understand and identify signs of mental illnesses and reauthorizes and seeks to improve federal mental health-related programs, including the reauthorization of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act and expansion of the National Violent Death Reporting System.

Suicides in Jails


Suicides are the second leading cause of death in jails following natural causes. According to a 2010 study “inmates take their own lives three times more often than the average population”.  33% of inmate deaths were due to suicide from 2010-2012. While the number of jail suicides is lower that it has been in past decades this is still an important discussion because suicide is preventable and there should be policies to help prevent suicide within jails. 

Solitary Confinement and Mental Health


Recently there has been increased discussion on the use of solitary confinement within the United States prison system and whether its use is humane or beneficial. This issue has been brought to the forefront with President Barack Obama’s visit to a federal prison and his order for the Justice Department to review solitary confinement. 

New Report Finds Suicides Among Middle-Aged Men Rising


The University of Manchester’s National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness compiled statistics around suicide rates and show a new high-risk group: middle-aged men. 

Raising Awareness of Veteran Suicide


In order to raise awareness about the number of veteran suicides, 2 veterans, Daniel Egbert and Doc King, made a 22 day motorcycle journey across the United States from San Francisco to New York City.  

Challenging the Stigma of Mental Illness Through Photography


There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, and since the early 20th century, photographers have captured “dramatic black-and-white images of the mentally ill” depicting “out-of-control – and often untreated – patients trapped in mental hospitals that were often more like prisons”. However, according to French photographer Jean-Robert Dantou, these images distorted the reality of the suffering of mentally ill. 

House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Holds Hearing on Medicare Part D Program


The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on “Medicare Part D: Measures Needed to Strengthen Program Integrity” on Tuesday, July 14, 2015. The hearing featured two witnesses, Ms. Ann Maxwell, Assistant Inspector General for Evaluations with the Office of Evaluation and Inspections, Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, Director of the Center for Program Integrity at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.