The Advancing Research to Prevent Suicide Act (HR 4704, 116th Congress) would direct the National Science Foundation (NSF) to issue competitive, merit-based grants, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Mental Health, to academic institutions and consortia engaged in research that might help expand knowledge on suicide. Specifically, the bill calls on the NSF to support multidisciplinary research with the potential to improve the scientific understanding of the causes, impacts and treatments of suicide.
According to the bill, suicide is the second most common cause of death among individuals aged 15-34 in the US. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that the suicide rate in the US has been on the rise, increasing by 33% from 1999 to 2017. As such, HR 4704 aims to address the gaps in the scientific knowledge on how neural, genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influence an individual’s resilience or vulnerability to suicide. Accordingly, the NSF may issue grants to advance research on the neural basis of human social behavior, human cognition, and the biopsychosocial aspects of human development, as well as to support studies investigating how perceptual, motor, and cognitive processes impact human behavior in ways that might contribute to or mitigate suicide risk.
Additionally, an amendment submitted by Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10) during the mark-up session for the bill would expand the purview of such NSF grants to include research on the relevance of drugs and alcohol in suicide.