Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Assessment of Suicide Thoughts and Behaviors among Children and Preteens
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

February 9, 2022

First Available Due Date:
June 16, 2022
Expiration Date:
May 08, 2024

Related Announcements

PA-21-235 - NIMH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

Issued by

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)



As of 2019, suicide was the fifth leading cause of death for children ages 5-12. While still relatively rare, the death of a child by suicide is a devastating event and can have long-lasting effects on families, schools, medical providers, and communities. In addition, suicide rates for children have been increasing over time, especially for some subgroups such as Black youth. Despite these concerning trends, little is known about how to assess the presence and severity of STB among younger children. In the FY2022 House Appropriations Report (H. Rept. 117-96), Congress encouraged NIMH to continue to prioritize suicide research in Fiscal year 2022. In 2021 NIMH convened a four-part virtual research roundtable series, “Risk, Resilience, & Trajectories in Preteen Suicide.” Three topical roundtables culminated in a synthesis meeting and brought together a diverse group of expert panelists to assess the state of the science and short- and longer-term research priorities related to child/preteen suicide risk and risk trajectories. Presentations and discussions among round table participants highlighted the importance of using developmentally and culturally sensitive suicide risk assessment approaches and suggested that the current measures and methods used to assess STB in adolescents and adults need to be reconsidered and adapted for this younger population.

Research Objectives
The purpose of this Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) is to encourage advance research that addresses outstanding questions related to the developmentally and culturally appropriate characterization and assessment of STB in children/preteens. For purposes of this NOSI, children/preteens are defined as youth 12 years old and younger. NIMH encourages applications that consider issues relevant to the assessment of diverse youth, including the acceptability and cultural relevance of the strategies for assessment among youth from minoritized backgrounds and/or sexual and gender minority youth.

Given the importance of considering youths’ developmental status (e.g., cognitive functioning as it relates to their understanding of death and participation in the assessment) and the importance of assessing youths’ internal states, NIMH encourages applications that bring together teams with strong expertise in developmental science and projects that directly assess respondents’ comprehension of interview/survey items and the developmental appropriateness of potential assessment approaches. Investigator teams are also expected to include expertise in suicide risk assessment and conceptualization and expertise in measure development and psychometrics, as appropriate. Applicants may choose to utilize mixed method approaches (e.g., cognitive interviewing approaches to assess the young respondents’ comprehension of proposed questionnaire/interview items). In these instances, applicants should specify how the proposed methods are consistent with established standards of rigor for quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis.

Examples of responsive applications include, but are not limited to projects that:

  • Systematically explore youths’ understanding of death and the permanence of death
  • Develop and refine developmentally appropriate strategies for identifying and quantifying suicidal ideation among younger children (e.g., frequency, intensity, duration, stability/instability of ideation)
  • Explore the relevance of various parameters of STB that are central to the assessment and conceptualization of STB among adults and older youth (e.g., intent to die, lethality of means).
  • Examine how developmental capacity impacts comprehension of assessment approaches, including youths’ understanding of language that is used to assess STB among adults and older children, and the young respondent’s participation in the assessment protocols
  • Explore approaches to integrating information from various sources, including parent-report and approaches that are less reliant on language comprehension
  • Pilot test approaches for validating candidate measures of STB (e.g., against in-depth clinical interview)
  • Leverage assessments included in the parent project protocol (e.g., measures of cognitive ability, self-regulation) to inform, augment, or preliminarily validate approaches to assessing and characterizing STB
  • Explore perceived feasibility, acceptability, and safety of approaches for assessing STB among parents and children/preteens, particularly those from minoritized backgrounds and/or sexual and gender minority youth
  • Examine how respondent (parent, child, other caregiver, educator) characteristics and/or factors related to the assessment setting and context may influence responses and assessment outcomes

Applications should clearly address the following:

  • The investigative team’s relevant expertise in measurement development and validation
  • The rationale for the selection of suicide-related constructs and corresponding assessment instruments (e.g., measures of ideation, attempts), the time periods assessed (e.g., lifetime history, current), and the assessment schedule for administration
  • Opportunities for later follow-up of suicide events through self-report and/or medical records/vital statistics data sources (i.e., follow-up measures of ideation, attempts, deaths, crisis-related services such as emergency care) and the need for informed consent, as appropriate
  • Provisions for clinical management when suicidal risk or behavior is reported, as appropriate.

Non-Responsive Applications

The following types of studies will be considered non-responsive and will not be reviewed:

  • Purely qualitative studies that do not incorporative a quantitative or mixed methods approach.
  • Studies seeking to understand suicide risk and protective factors, rather than focusing on developmentally and culturally appropriate assessment of STB.
  • Studies that include participants outside the specified age range (12 and under).

Application and Submission Information

This notice applies to due dates on or after June 16, 2022 and subsequent receipt dates through May 8, 2024. 

Submit applications for this initiative using one of the following funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) or any reissues of these announcement through the expiration date of this notice.

  • PA-21-235 - NIMH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and the funding opportunity announcement used for submission must be followed, with the following additions:

  • For funding consideration, applicants must include “NOT-MH-22-086” (without quotation marks) in the Agency Routing Identifier field (box 4B) of the SF424 R&R form.

Applications nonresponsive to terms of this NOSI will not be considered for the NOSI initiative.


Please direct all inquiries to the contacts in Section VII of the listed funding opportunity announcements with the following additions/substitutions:

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

National Institute of Mental Health
Eric R. Murphy, PhD
Telephone: 301-443-9230

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Janet Kuramoto-Crawford, PhD
Telephone: 301-443-8856