Suicide Prevention

Black and white wooden boardwalk

APA uses psychological research to advocate for systems of health and mental health care that identify and treat individuals at risk of suicide and their families.

Public Policies Can Help Prevent Suicide

Access to Care

Access to Care

Increase access to screening for depression, suicide and other mental health concerns across the lifespan. 

Ensure insurance coverage for prevention services, including screening for depression across the lifespan. 

Increase the number of trained health care professionals, including psychologists and other mental health professionals, and effective peer services. 

Increase acute treatment resources by expanding Medicaid coverage for short-term acute inpatient stays.

Funding

Funding Evidence-Based Treatment

Increase dissemination of evidenced-based treatments for all populations and ages in a variety of settings, including schools, prisons, outpatient and inpatient centers.

Support funding streams for innovative community-based programs that work with those at risk, such as Parachute, which provides a support line, peer support, mobile treatment team and crisis respite centers.

Support crisis intervention and response: including public mental health systems; first responders such as paramedic, police and fire and rescue services; and create alternatives to the overcrowded emergency rooms and jails that are so ill-suited to treat people in emotional crisis.

Continued Research

Research

Support research into suicide, especially aimed at reducing the prevalence of suicide by firearms, a particularly lethal method of suicide attempts. Suicide is a type of violence and must be part of any violence prevention efforts.

Expand the National Violent Death Reporting System.

Support key programs

Prevention Programs

Ensure the continuation of early intervention resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Essential behavioral health programs such as the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act, National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the recently re-authorized Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act.

Risk Factors for Suicide

1

Talking About Dying

Any mention of dying, disappearing, jumping, shooting oneself or other types of self harm

2

Recent Loss

Through death, divorce, separation, broken relationship, self-confidence, self-esteem, loss of interest in friends, hobbies or activities previously enjoyed

3

Change in Personality

Sad, withdrawn, irritable, anxious, tired, indecisive, apathetic

4

Change in Behavior

Can't concentrate on school, work or routine tasks

5

Change in Sleep Patterns

Insomnia, often with early waking or oversleeping, or nightmares

6

Change in Eating Habits

Loss of appetite and weight, or overeating

7

Fear of Losing Control

Acting erratically, harming self or others

8

Low Self-esteem

Feeling worthless, shame, overwhelming guilt, self-hatred, "everyone would be better off without me."

9

No Hope for the Future

Believing things will never get better, or that nothing will ever change

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

1-800-273-TALK (8255)


Visit the website

Suicide prevention

Resources

Podcast: Preventing Suicide


Stigma and lack of access to mental health services prevent many people from receiving the help they need, according to 2014 APA President Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD. Learn how psychologists enhance the services available to people who are struggling with thoughts of suicide. A podcast transcript is available.

Take Action Now

APA Advocacy Related to Suicide Prevention

December 2016

Suicide Prevention Program Included in 21st Century Cures Act

APA successfully advocated for introduction and reauthorization of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA), which was incorporated into the 21st Century Cures Act, a sweeping health reform package that included several comprehensive mental health reform provisions passed by Congress last December. 

Within Cures, APA successfully advocated for important changes to the GLSMA Campus Suicide Prevention Program aimed at strengthening mental health care services on college campuses. This included crucial changes to the campus program, which now allows funds for the program to be used to support the hiring of appropriately training staff and the provision of direct services in college counseling centers. In addition, this also included the establishment of an inter-agency working group on college mental health and the creation of a national public health awareness campaign to reduce stigma associated with help-seeking on college campuses. 

Since its inception, the GLSMA has supported 370 youth suicide prevention grants in 50 states, 47 tribes or tribal organizations, and 175 institutions of higher education. However, suicide still remains the third leading cause fo death for adolescents and young adults between the age of 10 and 24.

September 2014

APA Testifies Before Congress on Suicide Prevention

APA provided testimony at a Sept. 18, 2014, hearing before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, "Suicide Prevention and Treatment: Helping Loved Ones in Mental Health Crisis." Joel Dvoskin, PhD, ABPP, represented APA on a distinguished panel of witnesses, which included former member of Congress Lincoln Diaz-Balart, whose son died by suicide last year, and acting U.S. Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak, MD. Dvoskin’s testimony focused on the unique contributions of psychology in addressing and preventing suicide; it addressed: 

  • The link between suicide and other types of violence.
  • Why suicide is an urgent, complex, and multifaceted problem.Suicide risk and protective factors.
  • Successful means to reduce risk and prevent suicide.
  • APA public policy recommendations. 

APA takes a multidimensional approach to suicide prevention and views suicide prevention as an essential part of violence prevention.

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Amalia Corby
Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer, APA Public Interest Government Relations

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About APA Advocacy

APA represents the largest and most visible national presence advocating for psychology at the federal level. There are three APA government relations offices and two APA-affiliated organizations that engage in government relations activities. 

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