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McAdams suicide prevention bill passes the House

January 27, 2020

Washington, DC—Congressman Ben McAdams’ bipartisan legislation to spur research on how to help stem the alarming rise in America’s suicide rate through science-based answers, passed the House today.  The Advancing Research to Prevent Suicide Act (H.R. 4704), introduced last fall with Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, (R-OH) passed by a vote of 385 to 8.

The measure directs the National Science Foundation to fund competitive research grants across a range of disciplines, in response to an urgent call from mental health professionals, schools, and community leaders across the country who are working to support those in crisis.

“Every suicide is a tragic loss of life that affects families and communities, leaving them grieving.  In Utah, it is the leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24. Better research is urgently needed to fill in the knowledge gaps and provide answers that will help save lives,” said McAdams.

McAdams spoke on the House floor before the vote.

McAdams said that despite progress in mental health research, questions remain about the scientific understanding and basic knowledge of human genetic, behavioral, social, and environmental factors with potential relevance to suicide.  According to the largest private funder of suicide prevention research—the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)—90 percent of people who die by suicide have an underlying—and potentially treatable—mental health condition. Both AFSP and the American Psychological Association have endorsed the bill.

McAdams said this legislation directs the National Science Foundation to collaborate with the National Institutes of Health to award competitive grants to colleges and universities and nonprofit organizations to support fundamental research across a range of disciplines and to promote development of researchers who pursue this study as a career.  The research includes, but is not limited to, the basic understanding of human social behavior. The National Science Foundation provides several million dollars annually for suicide research.