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AFSP Pilot Innovation Grants on Suicide Research and Prevention

AFSP Suicide Research Grants support studies aimed at increasing our understanding of the causes of suicide and factors related to suicide risk, or that test treatments and other interventions designed to prevent suicide. At least one suicide outcome measure must be included in all grant projects. We also consider studies of treatment feasibility, and studies that add a suicide component (e.g., population or treatment) to an existing grant in another area.

AFSP research priority areas

AFSP suicide research grants program priority areas for 2014–16

  • The high risk period following discharge from an inpatient hospital or emergency department or
  • Assessment and/or intervention in primary care settings.

We aim to fund at least one to two rigorously designed priority area grants among those awarded in each cycle. Our two-year priority period allows for resubmission of unsuccessful applications in the second year. While we encourage applications in the priority areas, we also encourage and welcome all applications related to preventing suicide. In addition we continue to maintain a strong interest in research related to survivors of suicide loss.

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention has defined its priorities in terms of six questions

  • Why do people become suicidal?
  • How can we better or optimally detect/predict risk?
  • What interventions are effective? What prevents individuals from engaging in suicidal behavior?
  • What services are most effective for treating the suicidal person and preventing suicidal behavior?
  • What other types of preventive interventions (outside health care systems) reduce suicide risk?
  • What new and existing research infrastructure is needed to reduce suicidal behavior?

Pilot Innovation Grants

Pilot Innovation Grants are awarded to investigators at any level, these grants provide seed funding for new projects that have the potential to lead to larger investigations. These grants typically entail feasibility studies rather than hypothesis-driven research.

Research grants and fellowships are awarded by the AFSP Board of Directors acting on the recommendations of the Chair of the Scientific Council. Each application is reviewed independently by two AFSP Scientific Advisors. The better-scoring applications are subsequently reviewed by a member of the Research Grants Committee, who presents them to the full committee for discussion and prioritization. These are then acted on by the Scientific Council and Board of Directors of AFSP.

Applications are evaluated on the basis of

  • (a) the potential of the research to contribute to the understanding and ultimate prevention of suicide, or to the treatment of suicidal patients,
  • (b) the qualifications, experience and productivity of the applicant,
  • (c) innovation,
  • (d) the facilities available to the applicant for the purpose of the study, and
  • (e) the methodology and demonstrated availability of a sufficient number of patients or subjects to carry out the research.

Source of funds

Funds used for all AFSP research grants and fellowships are obtained from private donations to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Eligibility and conditions

Investigators from all academic disciplines are eligible to apply, and both basic science and applied research projects will be considered, provided that the proposed study has an essential focus on suicide or suicide prevention.

A current grantee may submit a new application as their grant nears completion but it will not be funded until completion of the current grant and submission of a Final Report. New grantees must begin their studies within 6 months of the approved start date. Failure to begin the study within this time frame may result in withdrawal of the grant award.

AFSP research grants and fellowships are awarded to individuals affiliated with not-for-profit institutions or organizations in the U.S. and abroad. Grant applications are not accepted from for-profit organizations, or from federal or state government agencies. Applications from the Veterans Administration are eligible. Applications from both private and public colleges and universities are eligible so long as the institution is not-for-profit. Check with your institution’s financial department if you are not certain about the status of your institution. Grant payments are made to the grantee institution for the individual investigator.

Individuals may be the Principal Investigator (PI) on only one AFSP Pilot Research Grant at a time. However, individuals currently holding an AFSP Postdoctoral Research Fellowship are eligible to receive additional funds through a Pilot Research Grant to support costs associated with the research project (See AFSP Policies for Postdoctoral Research Fellowships).

During the second year of funding (the first year in the case of a one-year grant), an individual holding a research grant may apply for another AFSP grant in the same or another category which, if approved, would start after the end date of the first grant. The second grant cannot begin until the final progress report and financial statement for the current grant are received by AFSP and the Initiation papers for the second grant are approved.

AFSP research grants and fellowships are awarded with the understanding that the recipient individual and institution will not accept funds from any other granting agency for research that substantially overlaps with what was approved by AFSP.

Personnel compensated in whole or in part through an AFSP research grant are not considered employees of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, but of the grantee institution. AFSP does not assume any responsibility for the conduct of the research or other acts of the investigators. AFSP grantees are subject to the ethical and scientific policies of the grantee institution.

Description of grant


All AFSP research grants are designed to support research on suicide from a variety of disciplines including psychiatry, medicine, psychology, genetics, epidemiology, neurobiology, sociology, nursing, health services administration, social work, and many others. Grants are not intended to support the development or implementation of prevention programs, educational programs, treatments, or other interventions that do not have a significant research component.

The specific purpose of the Pilot Research Grant is to provide seed money for projects that show promise in opening up new areas of suicide research.

Term of Grant

Pilot Research Grants are made for a period of one or two years, with the second year of funding contingent upon the first year's performance.

If, during the course of the study, a grant recipient experiences delays that will cause the project's duration to last longer than the term of the award (based on the final payment date), a written request for an extension of the grant may be made by the Principal Investigator. These No Cost Extensions can be requested only after the final grant payment has been made. The NCE request will be evaluated in the (original) final quarter of the grant. If approved, the maximum term for such an extension is one year, thus postponing the closing date of the grant, and postponing the due date for the Final Reports. Please note that grant extensions will not normally be granted in cases where the problems or delays being experienced make it unlikely that the project will be successfully completed.

Documents required for request of a No Cost Extension:

  • Letter explaining the cause of the delay and rationale for the extension.
  • Budget detailing expenses to date and use of remaining funds during the NCE period.
  • New timeline outlining projected progress through the end of the new closing date.


At the time the award is made, grantees will be informed of the specific schedule of grant payments. Payments will be made to the investigator's institution in equal amounts, with the first payment made after all required information has been provided to AFSP, and the Principal Investigator has indicated that the grant project is ready to begin. Payments will proceed on schedule as long as the project is not experiencing significant delays, but may be delayed for projects that are not making adequate progress in completing scheduled activities, including reporting. Grantees should understand that the payments to the institution are suspended until proof of progress is made. The PI should inform the institution’s financial officer of the delay, so that the officer also understands that funding will be delayed.

Requirements and Amount

Pilot Research Grants provide up to $15,000 per year for a two-year period or $30,000 for one year.

Allowable and Non-Allowable Costs

AFSP research grants and fellowships are not designed to cover the total cost of the research proposed. The grantee institution is expected to provide the required physical facilities and administrative services normally available in an institution. The following is a summary of allowable and non-allowable costs.

Allowable costs include:

  • Compensation for investigators and other personnel required to conduct the research (e.g. technicians, research assistants, clerical staff), including salary and fringe benefits
  • Consultant fees
  • Consumable research supplies
  • Costs related to assessment measures, tests or procedures
  • Travel specifically required of personnel or participants to achieve the research aims
  • Subject/participant fees
  • Software licenses for the term of the grant
  • Other direct costs required to carry out the proposed research

Non-allowable costs include:

  • Indirect costs
  • Construction, alteration or maintenance of buildings
  • Standard office equipment or furniture
  • Durable equipment (e.g. computers, microscopes, imaging and other laboratory equipment)
  • Expenses related to conference attendance or presentations at conferences
  • Books, periodicals or other publications
  • Personnel recruiting and relocation expenses
  • Per diem charges for hospital beds
  • Tuition
  • Purchase of software
  • IRB fees

Budgets submitted must be realistic estimates of the funds required for the proposed research, and all items included in the budget must be fully justified. The Principal Investigator may make minor alterations within the approved budget, except where such expenditures conflict with the policies of AFSP. Substantial revisions in the approved budget must be specifically approved by AFSP.

Application Dates and Notifications

Applications are considered once each year and must be submitted by the deadline. Please visit our website for this year’s date; generally our deadline is in mid-November. Final award letters are issued following review and approval by the Scientific Council, and in turn by the Board of Directors, at their May meeting. These grants, if approved, may begin after October 1st.


Application date
15 Nov 2017
1 or 2 years
America United States Mid-Atlantic
Social sciences Gender Studies Psychology & Cognitive Sciences Social Anthropology Sociology Other Medicine
Required post-doc experience: 
between 0 and 99 years
Award granted
US$ 30.000