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New report highlights research agenda for suicide prevention

Goal is to decrease suicides by 20 percent in five years.

Earlier this year, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance), a public-private partnership whose mission is to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (PDF, 4.9MB), released the report “A Prioritized Research Agenda for Suicide Prevention: An Action Plan to save Lives” (PDF, 3.7MB). The report was produced by the Action Alliance’s Research Prioritization Task Force, which was co-led by the National Council for Suicide Prevention and the National Institute of Mental Health. The Action Alliance’s goal is to identify research that would contribute to decreasing suicide deaths by 20 percent in five years, which would prevent approximately 20,000 suicides.

Over the past 15 years, research investments in suicide prevention have not yielded decreases in the overall number of suicide deaths or attempts. In 2010, the most recent year with complete data, there were 38,000 individuals who died by suicide, and over 650,000 hospital visits related to suicide attempts. Furthermore, the rate of suicide deaths in the United States has not significantly decreased in 50 years. Thus, the intent of the report is to facilitate a prioritized research agenda that will ultimately guide practice and public policy across many domains, including health care, criminal justice and education. The report also targets several stakeholder groups in addition to the researchers, including potential funders, families who have been impacted by suicide, public health organizations and clinicians.  

The report asks several key questions in order to outline the state of the science, propose new research pathways, as well as identify short and long term objectives. Key questions explored include:

  • Why do people become suicidal?
  • How can we better detect and predict risk?
  • What interventions, treatments and services are effective to reduce suicidal risk and behavior?
  • What research infrastructure is needed to reduce suicidal behavior?

Supplemental information can be found via the Action Alliance’s press release, as well as the accompanying document “Suicide Research Prioritization Plan of Action” (PDF, 347KB).

For more information, contact Craig Fisher of the APA Science Government Relations Office.