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Policy Priority: Research, Surveillance, Data Collection, and Infrastructure

Designing and implementing effective national and state suicide prevention strategies requires a comprehensive understanding of who is dying by suicide and when.

Designing and implementing effective national and state suicide prevention strategies requires a comprehensive understanding of who is dying by suicide and when. It also requires knowledge of suicide risk and protective factors and the most effective prevention, intervention, and treatment practices within specific populations and settings – all of which are gained through conducting suicide-specific research. AFSP has long advocated for and continues to prioritize increased funding for suicide-specific research and data collection methods that advance our current understanding of suicide and suicidal behavior. AFSP also prioritizes working with federal agencies, states, and partner organizations to help build and sustain suicide prevention infrastructure that translates this research into practice and at scale.

State Infrastructure

State suicide prevention infrastructure includes the systems, organizations, and funding necessary for the planning, implementation, evaluation, and sustainability of statewide suicide prevention efforts. The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention calls for the development of comprehensive state suicide prevention plans to coordinate prevention activities across state agencies and organizations. Effective plans bridge public and private partnerships, engage diverse communities, are funded and sustainable, emphasize data collection, evaluate progress, and are regularly revised and updated to reflect new data and opportunities.

  • Increase funding for and assist in the implementation and evaluation of state suicide prevention initiatives and plans to prevent suicide across the lifespan.

Architectural Barriers and Structures

Removing or limiting access to lethal means and allowing time for an individual’s suicidal impulse to pass or for them to receive intervention is a proven method to prevent suicide. For bridges, high buildings, and other publicly accessible areas of height, this can be achieved by creating or installing barriers and physical structures to limit the potential for suicide.

  • Encourage, incentivize, or require the building of physical barriers and structures to prevent suicides on bridges, tall buildings, and other areas that pose suicide risk due to their significant height.

Federal Funding

During the annual federal budget process, AFSP encourages Congress to make critical investments in suicide prevention programs, research, and surveillance at various federal agencies. Data collection through research and surveillance can provide critical insights into the prevention, intervention, and postvention plans and strategies most effective for specific populations and communities. The data produced by research and surveillance can also clarify which populations and communities are most at risk of dying by suicide, giving direction to future planning efforts.