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.

Technology shifts means of access to mental health


As more Americans believe mental health is a priority equal to physical health, there has been in increase in demand for mental health services coupled with a continued lack of mental health professionals and resources. Telehealth services, or having a counselor, psychologist, or psychologist available through remote connection, has improved access to mental health services in rural areas without a provider present. Now, smart phone apps join the new wave of technology friendly mental health services.

One in Ten on Death Row in the United States is a Veteran


One in 10 people on death row in the U.S. is a military veteran, and many of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder that was not considered when they were sentenced, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Death Penalty Information Center. Vets make up 7 percent of the U.S. population, with the roughly 300 that have been sentenced to die comprising 10 percent of the inmates on death row, according to the study. Richard Dieter, author of the report and senior program director at the center, said prosecutors, judges and juries are often not adequately informed about the effects of PTSD. 

Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs Holds Hearing on VA Mental Health


On October 28, the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs hosted a hearing entitled “VA Mental Health: Ensuring Access to Care.” The hearing brought special attention to the ways in which veterans gain access to quality mental health care, a key factor in suicide prevention. Amongst the witnesses were Nicholas Karnaze, a veteran of the U.S. Marines, and Dean Maiers,  a U.S. Navy veteran, who each gave testimony to their own struggles with mental illness and suicide. Veteran advocate groups like the American Legion and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and a representative from the Government Accountability Office spoke about the successes and failures of the Veteran’s Administration (VA) to provide mental health services for service members in need. 

AFSP Testifies in Support of DC Suicide Prevention Bill


On Tuesday, October 27, AFSP Director of State Policy & Grassroots Advocacy, Nicole Gibson, testified before the DC Council Committee on Education in support of B21-361, the Youth Suicide Prevention and School Climate Survey Act of 2015, along with two AFSP volunteers: Deborah Steinberg, former AFSP Public Policy Associate and Annise Maguire, AFSP-National Capital Area Chapter Board member and Advocacy Committee Chair.  Several representatives from AFSP’s partner organizations – including the Trevor Project, the National Association of School Psychologists, the Human Rights Campaign, and the DC Center for the LGBT Community – also testified in support.

SAMHSA Awards Grants to Support State Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in conjunction with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Assistant Secretary of Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), awarded a total of $22.9 million to support states throughout the nation in their efforts to improve behavioral health of their citizens by providing community-based mental and substance use disorder treatment.

AFSP Vice President of Public Policy Speaks at the Out of the Darkness Walk: Walk for R.I.T.A., held in Saratoga, New York


John RITA OOTD Walk 9-18-15

On Sunday, October 18, 2015, Vice President of Public Policy, John Madigan Jr. attended and spoke at the Out of the Darkness Walk: Walk for R.I.T.A., held in Saratoga, New York. The Out of the Darkness walks are a way for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to reduce suicide rates by raising money for research, awareness, and supporting local suicide prevention programs. Our goal at AFSP is to reduce suicide rates 20 percent by the year 2025. Madigan was quoted saying, “We will achieve that goal because of people like you,” reminding everyone that we are able to reduce suicide rates from the money that they are donating at these local walks held all over the country. AFSP believes that two of the key principles to preventing suicide is bringing awareness and reducing stigma on mental health.

AFSP attends Women's Coalition for Common Sense on gun violence and interpersonal abuse


Domestic Violence Summit

Nancy Farrell, Chair of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Nicole Gibson, Director of State Policy & Grassroots Advocacy, and Sarah Moore, Public Policy Associate, attended the Domestic Violence Awareness Summit on October 14, 2015.  Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords hosted the event with her organization “Americans for Responsible Solutions” that advocates for more efficient gun safety legislation. The summit focused on the intersection of domestic violence with gun violence, and how women have acted to create changes in the legal system.

AFSP Attends Meeting on Affordable Care Act at the Department of Health and Human Services


On October 14, 2015, Public Policy team members Trevor Summerfield, Manager of Federal Policy and Ian Hudson, Public Policy Associate attended the Department of Health and Human Services’ Affordable Care Act (ACA) RoundTable. Organizations such as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Autism Speaks, and the AIDS Institute also participated in the roundtable. The purpose of the meeting was to collaborate some more on the upcoming open enrollment period, which begins on November 1, 2015. Each group present shared any updated information that they had from their organizations and shared ideas that could help with the upcoming open enrollment.