Nation’s Largest Suicide Prevention Organization Awards $1 Million Research Grant to Researcher in St. Louis

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Contact: Alexis O’Brien, PR Director, 347-826-3577, aobrien@afsp.org

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Annual Research Grants Selected for Funding

JEFFERSON CITY, MO (June 7, 2017) – The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is proud to announce the winners of the annual research grant application process, including Dr. Charles Conway, M.D. and his team from the Washington University School of Medicine Psychiatry Department in St. Louis, Missouri, who will be receiving one of the largest grants of nearly $1 million over the next three years for his study on “Adjunctive Nitrous Oxide for Acute Suicidal Ideation in Unipolar Depressed Hospitalized Patients.” Dr. Conway’s study is one of 27 unique studies the foundation is funding this year for research related to suicide prevention, which is one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States. To help prevent this leading cause of death from claiming more lives, the AFSP funds many research grants annually to learn more about how to prevent suicide.

“When people are experiencing the pain that leads them to make a suicide attempt, time is of the essence and immediate intervention can make all the difference,” said Jill Harkavy-Friedman, AFSP vice president of research.

Dr. Conway’s study takes a novel approach to suicide prevention. He will test the effectiveness of using nitrous oxide compared to a placebo to dramatically reduce suicide risk in the moment of highest risk and sustain the improvement over time. Participants will be individuals who have been hospitalized for a suicide attempt. Using a double-blind randomized control design, in addition to treatment as usual, participants will receive four doses of nitrous oxide or placebo gas. The goal is to determine if the treatment is effective, well tolerated and more effective for some individuals than others. While there are other promising short-acting treatments, they carry multiple risks and are not available to many who are experiencing intense suicidal ideation and behavior.

Each application was reviewed using a rigorous multi-step process with leading experts in the field. The research grants are funded mainly through individual donors who attend the AFSP Out of the Darkness walks and other public education events. Many of the AFSP grantees then go on to receive further funding from the National Institute of Mental Health and other large funding agencies. There are two $1 million grants being awarded this year, one to Dr. Conway, and one to Dr. Alan Swann, from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

Suicide in Missouri

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death overall in Missouri. For people aged 10-24 in Missouri, it is the third leading cause of death. For those aged 25-34, it is the second leading cause of death. On average, one person dies by suicide every 8 hours in the state.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. AFSP celebrates 30 years of service to the suicide prevention movement. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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