Request for Information (RFI): Guidance for Opportunities in Suicide Research Using Existing Datasets

Notice Number: NOT-MH-16-027

Key Dates
Release Date:  September 16, 2016

Response Date: December 2, 2016

Related Announcements

Issued by
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)


This Request for Information (RFI) seeks input to 1) identify existing datasets as a means to provide support for aggregation and analysis of larger data sets that will shed light on pathophysiology of suicidal behavior; 2) learn of efficient strategies for linking healthcare data with mortality; and seek information on incentives needed to accomplish the task.


NIMH continues to address research gaps identified in the 2014 Prioritized Research Agenda for Suicide Prevention. A recent NIMH Concept Clearance identified two suicide research gap areas to be addressed:

The first proposes to leverage prior basic, clinical and intervention research on suicide risk and behaviors by encouraging the integration of existing data sets for novel secondary analyses to identify potential biological, experiential and other predictors and moderators of suicide risk.

The second identifies the need to link health care system data (e.g., suicide attempt events) to mortality data so that a more accurate picture of the risks and extent of suicide among those seen in care is known. Specifically, data are needed on the type, strength, and timing of suicide predictors. In addition to improving our national knowledge of the burden of suicide, these are essential ‘metrics’ for both public and private care providers/insurers, who increasingly will be seeking improvements to drive down suicide events in their systems.

Information Requested

This RFI seeks information from the community about:

1) Types of datasets available – we are seeking information about datasets that have crosslinking common data elements of suicide measures, and are complimentary in the levels of analysis to be utilized. Some examples might include common measures of suicidal behavior across studies that collect genetic, physiological, or neural information.

a. Information is being sought on individual data sets that include:

i. Various levels of analysis in the dataset.
ii. Various suicide measures in the dataset, including the range of suicide morbidity and mortality (i.e. suicide ideation, suicide attempt, death by suicide, non-suicidal self-injury).
iii. Various methods of enriching the sample for risk (e.g. family history, past behavior, etc).
iv. Risk factors for suicide related behaviors included in the dataset.
v. Human subjects consent documents intended to allow for broad data sharing for general research use.

b. Information is being sought on potential aggregated datasets, particularly those that have focused efforts to facilitate integration of datasets with multiple levels of analysis, with regard to the following:

i. Information regarding the statistical power in aggregated datasets intended to analyze moderators of suicide-related outcomes.
ii. Information on aggregated data sets that include various aspects of suicide morbidity (ideation, attempts) and mortality (suicide death).
iii. Description of the various age groups in the datasets, and how they would be covered in the aggregated dataset.
iv. Information on obstacles to aggregating datasets for research use.
v. Requisite expertise needed to successfully integrate different levels of analysis (e.g. from genes to circuits).
vi. Information on experience with and utility of sharing the aggregated data set with the NIMH Data Archive.  

2) In order to achieve a wider linking of population-based data on healthcare utilization (e.g., claims, encounters, discharges, electronic health records) to mortality outcomes (i.e., fact, cause and manner of death), we are seeking information on:

a. Efficient strategies for linking large public data sources (e.g., claims/encounters for beneficiaries in Medicaid and Medicare fee-for-service and managed care; hospital, hospital emergency department, and other health care discharge data; health and social science surveys) to mortality data, for both proximal as well as longer term precursors of mortality outcomes among various cohorts (e.g., defined by care access patterns; demographic characteristics; geography).

i. Information on mortality-linked claims, encounters, discharges, electronic health records, and/or survey data at the state and national level that can be used to track state and federal quality improvement progress in reducing suicide burden, and at what cost.

b. The major barriers to wider linking of large non-public (i.e., non-profit or commercial) data sources on health and health care of individuals with private/commercial insurance to mortality data, to enable research on patterns and predictors of suicide and other mortality in this population. This includes efficient strategies to address such barriers in order to achieve wider linking and access to linked data for clinical and public health research on reducing risk for suicide and other mortality.

c. Experience with approaches to examine precursors and their association to suicide and other mortality outcomes and to probe whether targeting particular precursors would reduce multiple types of mortality.

Submitting a Response

All comments must be submitted via email as text or as an attached electronic document. Your responses should be addressed to: by December 2, 2016.  Please include the Notice number in the subject line. Response to this RFI is voluntary. Responders are free to address any or all of the categories listed above. The submitted information will be reviewed by the NIH staff.

This request is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the Federal Government. The NIH does not intend to make any awards based on responses to this RFI or to otherwise pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for the Government's use of such information.

The NIH will use the information submitted in response to this RFI at its discretion and will not provide comments to any responder's submission. However, responses to the RFI may be reflected in future funding opportunity announcements. The information provided will be analyzed and may be aggregated in reports. Respondents are advised that the Government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information received or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted.  No proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should be included in your response. The Government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant solicitation(s).


Please direct all inquiries to:

Jane Pearson, PhD
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)  
Telephone: 301-443-3598