Advocates Gather in Denver for First Suicide Prevention Day at the Capitol

             Contact: Alexis O’Brien ([email protected]), 202-441-8764

Advocates Gather in Denver for First Suicide Prevention Day at the Capitol

DENVER, CO (February 21, 2019) – Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and the seventh leading cause of death in Colorado.  On Tuesday, February 26, advocates from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Colorado Chapter, Mental Health Colorado, NAMI Colorado, and the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Colorado will come together to host the first annual Suicide Prevention Day at the Capitol.  Host organizations will be joined by over 120 advocates onsite, half a dozen mental health organizations from across the state, and numerous individuals participating through a livestream. Advocates will meet with lawmakers during a breakfast and throughout the day, urging them to prioritize suicide prevention and mental health initiatives for Colorado residents.

“Advocating for suicide prevention in Colorado is important to me for so many reasons. I’ve been personally touched by mental illness in my family for my entire life, as well as experiencing a person close to me that made a suicide attempt when I was a teenager. My community has also recently experienced many youth suicides which has impacted me greatly.  Some Colorado residents are struggling to find resources in moments of crisis, increasing awareness of mental health and resources in Colorado can save lives and needs to be prioritized by our lawmakers and community members,” said Mary Jo Lagesse, AFSP Colorado Community Outreach Committee Chair.

Advocates will ask lawmakers to help increase available resources throughout the state by supporting SB 19-010 that would expand the existing Behavioral Health Care Professional Matching Grant Program, also known as the School Health Professionals Grant Program, by allowing grant funds to be used for school behavioral health care services, including screenings, counseling, therapy, referrals to community organizations, and training for students and staff. Advocates will also ask lawmakers to protect Colorado’s youth by supporting HB 19-1129 that would prevent a licensed physician specializing in psychiatry or a licensed, certified, or registered mental health care provider from engaging in conversion therapy with minors. It would also make the advertising or practice of conversion therapy by a physician or mental health care provider a deceptive trade practice under the Colorado Consumer Protection Act.

The first Suicide Prevention Day at the Capitol is a special day for all who have a connection with or a personal story around the topic of suicide. Advocates will meet with their state legislators and share their stories about why they participate in this advocacy effort, giving a human face to this important health problem. Advocates hope that by sharing their stories, they will help legislators understand that state investments in mental health and suicide prevention can save lives.  

Advocates from AFSP-Colorado are part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting over 40 state capitols across the United States in 2019 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators and their staff. To learn more about AFSP’s advocacy efforts, visit here: https://afsp.org/our-work/advocacy/.

On average, one hundred twenty-nine (129) Americans died by suicide each day in 2017, and 90% of those individuals had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death. AFSP volunteers will urge state lawmakers to be the voice for the thousands of Colorado residents affected by suicide each year.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, with a Public Policy Office in Washington, D.C. AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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