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.

Saving Lives from Suicide


This month marked a major milestone for suicide prevention when the Golden Gate Bridge board of directors approved the first funding toward construction of a suicide barrier on the San Francisco landmark. Since its opening in 1937, the bridge has become the single most frequently used suicide spot in the United States and second most used site in the world, with nearly 1,600 people estimated to have died from jumping off the bridge. The $76 million construction of a steel net that was approved last year is just what is needed to prevent future deaths. A contract to begin building will likely be awarded in March.

New research points to suicide risk factors that may be overlooked


A new study presented at the 28th European College of Neuropsychopharmocology Congress in Amsterdam found that the DSM-V, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used by psychologists to identify mental health issues, did not account for risk factors that may be a predictor of suicide. Incomplete diagnostic standards may lead health professionals to overlook patients who are at risk for suicide but who do not fit the expected mold.

Navy crew bans together to address suicide


On August 31, 2015, sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt participated in their own version of the “Out of the Darkness” walks that support suicide prevention across the nation. The sailors walked to both remember those whom they have lost to suicide and to raise awareness for depression and suicide amongt armed forces members. 

Maine's Hidden Public Health Crisis: Suicide


Maine Attorney General Janet Mills says the number of drug overdose deaths for 2015 is on track to be similar to last year - the worst on record. She calls that a crisis. But while the state battles drug overdoses, another public health issue is taking even more lives in Maine: suicide.

Murphy faults 'failed mental health system' for journalists' killings


Representative Tim Murphy, who has been pushing mental health reform legislation for several years, attributed Wednesday’s deadly shooting of the two Virginia journalists to “the aftermath of a failed mental health system” and said he is calling on House leaders to take up his reform bill when Congress returns from August recess. AFSP currently supports Representative Murphy's H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. 

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.