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.

Robert McDonald Confirmed by Senate as New Secretary of Veterans Affairs

07/29/2014

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

07/28/2014

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

07/24/2014

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

07/22/2014

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

07/21/2014

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”

07/17/2014

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.

Senate VA Committee Probes Recent VA Actions

07/16/2014

Senate VA Hearing 7-16-14

On July 16, 2014, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing, “The State of VA Health Care,” to investigate actions taken by the VA since the well-publicized discovery of scheduling irregularities and systemic access issues, as well as coming challenges for the VA to face.  AFSP was in attendance to monitor any discussion around mental health care and suicide prevention programs for our nation's veterans. 

AFSP Urges Senate Committee to Approve Funding for Military Suicide Prevention Research

07/15/2014

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) sent a letter today to the Senate Appropriation Defense Subcommittee Chair Richard Durbin and Ranking Member Thad Cochran seeking their action and support for an amendment to the FY 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill, H.R. 4870, which will set aside funds for a study on the links between financial stresses and service member suicides.