Funding Suicide Prevention

By American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Special for  USDR

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is proud to announce the winners of the annual research grant application process. Of the 193 applications received in November 2015, 17 grantees have been selected to receive from $30,000 to $1.5 million to fund research studies related to suicide  prevention.

“By funding innovative, methodically sound, potentially impactful research and building a community of researchers who care about suicide prevention, we know we can make inroads in reducing the suicide rate. Because suicide can be caused by many factors, it’s vital to approach the issue from many different angles in our research,” said Jill Harkavy-Friedman, AFSP vice president of research. “Having been an AFSP research grantee myself, and a former Scientific Advisor, I know the rigors our applicants go through. I am encouraged to see researchers who are involved with AFSP today remain passionate about suicide prevention even long after their studies are  complete.”


Each application is reviewed multiple times by the top suicide prevention researchers in the world. The research grants are funded mainly through individual donors who attend the AFSP 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.

The 17 grants awarded this year address the six key suicide research areas: Neurobiological, Psychosocial, Genetic, Treatment, Community or Loss  Survivors:

1. Title: “Clinical Profiles and Treatment Utilization Patterns Associated with Suicide among Youth in Medicaid”
Amount: $100,000
Researcher: Cynthia Fontanella, Ph.D.
Location: The Ohio State University, Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, OH
Question: What can we learn about suicide among youth from their health care just prior to their suicide?
Potential impact: Better follow-up care for youth at risk for suicide.

2. Title: “Early Life Adversity and Suicide: Characterization of Cerebral White Matter Alterations” 
Researcher: Naguib Mechawar, Ph.D.
Location: McGill University, Douglas Institute, Verdun, Canada
Question: Does early life adversity affect white matter development in the brain in a way that increases suicide risk?
Potential impact: Identification of potential brain targets for suicide prevention.

3. Title: “Youth Who Text a Crisis Line: Understanding Needs and Help Seeking”
Amount: $100,000
Researcher: Anthony Pisani, Ph.D.
Location: University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Question: How can we best help youth who text when in crisis?
Potential impact: Improved crisis text counseling services for youth at risk for suicide.

4. Title: “Efficacy of Cognitive Bias Modification in Residential Treatment for Addiction”
Amount: $99,654
Researcher: Lena Quilty, Ph.D.
Location: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada
Question: Will a computer-based intervention reduce suicidal ideation among individuals hospitalized for suicidal ideation and substance use disorders?
Potential impact:
A computer-based intervention to reduce suicide risk after hospitalization.

5. Title: “The Relationship Between Decision-Making In a Negative Environment and Suicidal Behaviors”
Amount: $104,000
Researcher: Alexander Millner, Ph.D.
Location: Harvard University, Boston, MA
Question: How do the ways people make decisions relate to suicidal behavior?
Potential impact: Understanding the role of decision-making in suicidal behavior.

6. Title: “ABFT for LGBTQ Suicidal Youth: Feasibility, Acceptability and Transportability”
Amount: $104,000
Researcher: Jody Russon, Ph.D.
Location: Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
Question: Can Attachment Based Family Therapy (ABFT) be further modified for LGBT youth in a community mental health setting?
Potential impact: A portable, feasible intervention for suicidal LGBT youth and their families.

7. Title: “Blood-Brain Barrier in Suicide”
Amount: $104,000
Researcher: Tatiana Schnieder, Ph.D.
Location: Columbia University, New York, NY
Question: Is the blood-brain barrier compromised in suicide?
Potential impact: A marker of suicide risk that can be observed with conventional imaging techniques.

8. Title: “Impact of Canadian Media Guidelines on Suicide-related Media Reporting and Suicide Death Rates”
Amount: $84,866
Researcher: Mark Sinyor, M.Sc., M.D.
Location: Sunnybrook Research Institute Psychiatry, Toronto, Canada
Question: Have the media guidelines for safe reporting reduced suicide rates?
Potential impact: Revised and improved media guidelines for safe suicide reporting.

9. Title: “Additive Effect of Early Life Adversities and Polygenic Risk on Suicide Attempt in Schizophrenia”
Amount: $30,000
Researcher: Vincenzo De Luca, M.D., Ph.D.
Location: Center for Addiction and Mental Health, Psychiatry Department, Toronto, Canada
Question:  Do schizophrenia related genes interact with childhood trauma to modulate suicide risk?
Potential impact: Use of gene-environment interactions to identify suicide risk.

10. Title: “Health Coaching to Enhance Psychological Well-Being Among Veterans”
Amount: $27,658
Researcher: Lauren Denneson, Ph.D.
Location: Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
Question: Will Whole Health Coaching reduce suicidal ideation and improve well-being of veterans?
Potential impact: An approach to suicide prevention that has the potential to enhance resilience among at-risk veterans.

11. Title: “Developmentally-Specific Risks for Suicidal Ideation and Self-harm In Early and Middle Childhood”
Amount: $30,000
Researcher: Elise Paul, MA
Location: Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Question: Are there early warning signs of risk for suicidal behavior?
Potential impact: Identification of early age-specific risks of suicidal ideation and self-harm.

12. Title: “National Survey on Prevalence, Burden, and Support Seeking Behaviors of Survivors of Suicide Loss”
Amount: $30,000
Researcher: John Richardson, MPH
Location: University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Question: What is the frequency and impact of suicide on loss?
Potential impact: National estimates of the prevalence and impact of suicide loss.

13. Title: “Towards Identification of Behavioral and Neural Predictors of Adolescent Suicidality”
Amount: $30,000
Researcher: Jeremy Stewart, Ph.D.
Location: McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Question: Does sensitivity to social rejection predict suicidal ideation and behavior?
Potential impact: A task-based marker of suicide risk may improve clinical decision-making.

14. Title: “Using Telehealth to Improve Outcomes in Veterans at Risk for Suicide”
Amount: $300,000
Researchers: John Kasckow, Ph.D., Marianne Goodman, M.D., and Adam Wolkin, M.D.
Locations: VA Pittsburgh Health Care System, Pittsburgh, PA
VA New York Harbor Healthcare, New York, NY
Question: Will an intensive telehealth system reduce suicidal ideation among veterans?
Potential impact: Telehealth system may help reduce deaths by suicide in veterans.

15. Title: “Suicides and Severe Suicide Attempts among Subjects with Childhood Neuropsychiatric Disorder”
Amount: $125,000
Researcher: Andre Sourander, M.D., Ph.D.
Location: University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Question: What factors are associated with suicide among youth with neuropsychiatric disorders?
Potential impact: Early identification of high-risk adolescents with neuropsychiatric conditions.

16. Title: “Safety Planning Intervention to Reduce Short Term Risk”
Amount: $1,495,075
Researchers: Gregory K. Brown, Ph.D., Barbara H. Stanley, Ph.D., and Edwin D. Boudreaux, Ph.D.
Locations: University of Pennsylvania Psychiatry, Philadelphia, PA
Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY
University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester, MA
Question: Will helping people develop a safety plan when in the emergency room for a suicide attempt prevent future suicidal behavior?
Potential impact: Reduced rates of suicidal behaviors among high risk individuals who are evaluated and treated in acute care

17. Title: “An ED-based Randomized Clinical Trial of Lethal Means Counseling for Parents of At-Risk Youth”
Amount: $1,478,266
Researcher: Matthew Miller, M.D., M.P.H., Sc.D.
Location: Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Question: Does lethal means counseling for parents of adolescents at high risk for suicide positively affect decisions related to access to lethal means in the home?
Potential impact: Increased proactive behaviors to reduce access to lethal means and the potential for reduced rates of suicide.

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, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP onFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, and  YouTube.

SOURCE American Foundation for Suicide  Prevention

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