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Nation’s Largest Suicide Prevention Organization Awards Over $4.35 Million in Research Grants

July 18, 2016 – 5 min read


Federal research funding comparison

More information about Project 2025 coming soon.

Contact: Alexis O’Brien, PR Director, 347-826-3577, [email protected]

NEW YORK (JULY 18, 2016) – The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization has awarded more than $4.3 million to researchers from around the world to study suicide prevention. Through an intensive, annual grant review process, studies are chosen based on the quality of their grant applications and relevance to understanding and preventing suicide.

In the most recent grant cycle, AFSP received 193 grant applications and accepted 17, funding a total of $4.35 million in research. Over the past two years we have funded more than $8 million in new research which is a direct result of increased public contributions and more people walking in our Out of the Darkness Walks. AFSP is the largest private funder of suicide prevention research.

“Research in the field of suicide and mental health is absolutely vital. We need to better understand suicide and learn which suicide prevention strategies work so we can put them into practice. Our grants in suicide prevention research, along with investment by the federal government, have the potential to develop new and better tools to fight suicide,” said Jill Harkavy-Friedman, AFSP vice president of research.

Five of the 17 newly funded research studies listed below support AFSP’s Project 2025, an initiative that is focused on reducing the annual suicide rate 20 percent over the next 10 years.

“Through Project 2025, we have developed a model that reveals the most effective ways to save lives. We also know that reducing the suicide rate 20 percent by the year 2025 will take a collaborative effort across health care and community systems. We must work together in order to implement the kinds of programs, policies and interventions necessary to see this reduction in the suicide rate,” said AFSP CEO Bob Gebbia. “Project 2025 reaches across all demographic and cultural groups, and it’s our intention to save the most lives possible in the shortest amount of time.”

Focus: Firearm Safety

Grant title: An Emergency Department-based Randomized Clinical Trial of Lethal Means Counseling for Parents of At-Risk Youth

Researcher: Matthew Miller, M.D., M.P.H., Sc.D.

Location: Northeastern University in Boston, MA

Summary: Firearms account for half of all suicides in the U.S. One promising strategy—“lethal means counseling” —involves counseling patients at risk for suicide, or their families, in safe firearm storage. This study will examine the effectiveness of lethal means counseling for parents and adolescents seen in emergency departments for a suicide attempt. The study will be conducted at six Colorado hospitals.

Focus: Emergency Departments

Grant title: Safety Planning Intervention to Reduce Short Term Risk

Researchers: Greg Brown, Barbara Stanley, Edwin Boudreaux

Location: University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA; Columbia University; University of Massachusetts Medical School

Summary: There is a pressing need for improved suicide prevention protocols in emergency departments. The Safety Planning Intervention involves a clinician working with the patient to build a personalized, documented safety plan from a template that includes warning sign identification, limiting access to lethal means and personalized strategies to de-escalate a suicide crisis. It is easy to learn and administer, and has preliminary studies supporting its feasibility. This study will conduct a randomized control trial of the Safety Planning Intervention compared with standard care in the emergency department and examine subsequent suicidal behavior.

Focus: Large Healthcare Providers

Grant title: Using Telehealth to Improve Outcomes in Veterans at Risk for Suicide

Researcher: John Kasckow, M.D., Ph.D.

Location: VA Pittsburgh Health Care System in Pittsburgh, PA

Summary: Many veterans require hospitalization for mental health needs, and follow-up care is particularly important during the first three months post-discharge when patients are at highest risk for suicide. This study examines a home-based telehealth intervention to be used during the three months following hospital discharge that helps veterans monitor their symptoms, transmit suicide risk information to clinicians, and sustain ongoing connections with their healthcare providers.

The centers where the trial will be happening include:

  • The VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System in Pittsburgh, PA
  • The VA New York Harbor Health Care System in New York, NY
  • The James J Peters VA Medical Center in Bronx, NY

Focus: Large Healthcare Providers

Grant title: Clinical Profiles and Treatment Utilization Patterns Associated with Suicide among Youth in Medicaid

Researcher: Cynthia Fontanella, Ph.D.

Location: The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, OH

Summary: Over 45 million children are on Medicaid; within that number is a greater concentration of individuals with mental illness and suicide risk than the general population. Available research suggests significant problems exist in access to and quality of care in general health, mental health, and substance abuse care. This study seeks to estimate the rates of suicide among youth in the U.S. Medicaid program; to identify patterns that distinguish youth who died by suicide from youth with similar risk factors who did not die by suicide; and to examine the association between care received and the risk of suicide.

Focus: Large Healthcare Providers

Grant title: Health coaching to enhance psychological well-being among veterans

Researcher: Lauren Denneson, Ph.D.

Location: Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, OR

Summary: Suicide rates among veterans continue to rise, and veterans are more likely to die by suicide than their civilian counterparts. This study will provide information on the feasibility and acceptability of a new model known as Whole Health Coaching intervention, which has the potential to enhance resilience among this at-risk group. Twenty veterans with suicidal ideation who served in the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will participate. If effective, this model could serve as a relatively low cost intervention implemented in primary care settings in VA and other health care systems across the United States.

AFSP offers two categories of research awards: Focus grants and Innovation grants.

  • Focus grants are larger projects that have the potential to be impactful if brought to scale. Letters of intent for Focus grants are due to AFSP by August 1, and invited applications are due by December 7.
  • Innovation grant applications are available online after August 1 and submissions are due by November 15. Once all applications have been received, each is reviewed by at least two experts from over 150 AFSP scientific advisors who work in the field.

For information on the other research studies AFSP is funding this year, please contact [email protected].

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, with a Public Policy Office in Washington, D.C. AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia with programs and events nationwide. 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.