Taking Action to Save Lives Through Advocacy

AFSP’s advocacy efforts build on the knowledge we gain through research about the actions we can take to save lives. Our Public Policy Office unifies a nationwide network of Volunteer Advocates to actively voice their support of suicide prevention and mental health policies that can make a difference at the federal, state, and local levels.

Over the last year, AFSP and our volunteers have:

  • recruited 10,600 new Volunteer Advocates
  • sent nearly 24,000 messages to members of Congress in support of legislation, funding requests, and other initiatives related to AFSP’s public policy priorities

13th Annual Advocacy Forum

AFSP’s annual Advocacy Forum brings together Volunteer Advocates from across the country to learn about federal policies that can save lives and meet with their members of Congress. AFSP Advocates joined together virtually again this year to make their voices heard.

Key issues included support for the new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and the need for suicide risk screenings in emergency departments. The event included remarks from members of Congress and experts in the suicide prevention and mental health fields.

Volunteer Advocates from across the country met with 250 members of Congress, including every member of the Senate, as part of virtual meetings on Capitol Hill

Watch AFSP’S 2022 Virtual Advocacy Forum event

Making a Difference on Capitol Hill

This year, AFSP successfully advocated for the passage of several key pieces of legislation, including the:

  • Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (S.2938), which, among other provisions, allocated:
  • more than $1 billion in new federal funding for school and community-based mental health services, including $150 million for the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and $250 million for the Mental Health Services Block Grant Program
  • $750 million in grant funding to assist with implementation of existing extreme risk protection (ERPO) laws
  • STANDUP Act (S.1543/H.R.586), which established a preference for grant funding for state, tribal, and local educational agencies that implement evidence-based suicide awareness and prevention training policies
  • Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (H.R.1667), which provided grant funding to hospitals, medical professional associations, and other health care entities to promote mental health and prevent burnout among medical professionals

AFSP also effectively advocated for federal funding increases including:

  • more than $77 million in annual funding for the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, up from $24 million in FY21 to $101.621 million in FY22
  • $8 million for the CDC’s Comprehensive Suicide Prevention Program
Terri Lavely Volunteer Spotlight

Making a Difference in States Across the Country

Similar to the Advocacy Forum, each year chapters hold local State Capitol Day events giving Volunteer Advocates the opportunity to meet with and educate their state legislators.

AFSP State Capitol Day events are now held nationwide, reflecting tremendous growth since the program began nine years ago in only four states. Through these events and other advocacy activities, AFSP inspires positive changes in state laws across the country. This year, 36 state bills that AFSP chapters supported were enacted, including bills that:

  • establish state 988 crisis response systems and funding for crisis services
  • enhance suicide prevention awareness, training, and education in K-12 schools
  • improve suicide mortality data collection and monitoring
  • support Veterans and other first responders at risk for suicide
  • expand and strengthen better training for the behavioral health workforce

AFSP also joined together with the Trevor Project and other partners in speaking out against harmful state legislation that could potentially put young LGBTQ people at increased risk for suicide. Harmful bills in three states were successfully defeated that would restrict discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools, restrict access to gender-affirming medical care, and ban prohibitions on conversion therapy.

Supporting the New 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

On July 16, 2022, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline became available across the nation, signaling a new era in American suicide prevention. A simple 3-digit dialing code (988) increases access to the Lifeline for those in suicidal, mental health, or substance use crises, as well as for those who care for them. This change for the Lifeline has already resulted in dramatically increased call volume, making it critical that local crisis centers have appropriate funding, staffing, resources, and training to provide callers with immediate and effective help.

AFSP has championed advocacy efforts at the state and federal levels to ensure 988 is given the funding needed to support this monumental change in crisis care. Beyond our federal and state events, AFSP joined the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and over 40 other national partners on the Reimagine Crisis campaign, which included a November 2021 Week of Action for 988. We also contributed our voice to an FCC Stakeholders Forum on 988 and geolocation, providing input on how to best address concerns of privacy and public safety to preserve the trust of those in crisis.


letters to the editor sent by AFSP Volunteer
Advocates this year in support of 988

Read more about AFSP’s advocacy for 988

See how we measure our impact