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.

Pennsylvania Schools Work to Implement New School Suicide Prevention Law


Act 71, signed into law June 26, 2014, requires Pennsylvania schools to adopt youth suicide awareness and prevention policies.  After release of the PA Department of Education's model policy earlier this summer, Lehigh Valley and other PA school districts are working to develop and implement their own policies in accordance with the new law. 

Comprehensive Mental Health Legislation now in both the United States Senate and House of Representatives


The Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 was introduced by Senators Christopher Murphy (D-CT) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).  The bipartisan legislation is similar to the efforts underway in the House led by Representatives Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).  Each bill seeks to address mental health issues facing the nation through integrating mental health care, bolstering early intervention, and incentivizing evidence-based care.

Senators Cassidy and Murphy Introduce Comprehensive Mental Health Reform Legislation


Mental Health Reform is now being discussed in both chambers of Congress as Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) introduced the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 in the Senate. The Senators held a press conference on August 4, 2015 where they discussed the need for mental health reform and described how their legislation seeks to address some of the challenges in the area of mental health.

AFSP Attends 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid Ceremony


The Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Medicare & Medicaid last week with an event at the Hubert H. Humphrey Building in Washington, D.C. and AFSP Public Policy Associate Tim Hoffman was in attendance.

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.