Advocates to Storm State Capitol to Request Resources for Health Professionals to Help Fight Suicide

Contact: Alexis O’Brien, PR Director, 347-826-3577, [email protected]

NASHVILLE, TN (February 14, 2017) – Each year in the United States, suicide claims over 40,000 lives – more than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. On average one person dies by suicide every eight hours in Tennessee. To help prevent this tragic loss of life, volunteer advocates from both Tennessee chapters of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are visiting Nashville on Wednesday, February 15th to convince their legislative leaders to support The Kenneth and Madge Tullis, MD, Suicide Prevention Training Act (SB 0489) which would require health professionals to get suicide prevention training every two years.

“In Tennessee, we lose nearly 1,000 lives each year to suicide, as many or more as we lose in motor vehicle accidents. I am an advocate for suicide prevention and awareness to honor my brother, who was one of those suicide losses in 2012.  In order to help prevent suicide deaths, mental health professionals must be prepared to assess and treat suicidal individuals,” said Shannon Hall, who is the chair of the AFSP Middle TN Chapter, and a resident of Franklin, Tennessee.

The Kenneth and Madge Tullis, MD, Suicide Prevention Training Act would require certain mental health professionals to choose from a model list of evidence-based training programs and would be able to count the hours spent in the training toward meeting applicable continuing education requirements for their profession. With the right tools, mental health professionals can better recognize the warning signs for suicide and take the appropriate steps to protect patients who may be at risk.

Unfortunately, the majority of mental health professionals are unprepared to assess and treat suicidal individuals. Only 50 percent of psychologists, 25 percent of social workers, and 6 percent of counselors have training in suicide risk assessment. If we want to prevent this serious loss of life, we need our healthcare professionals to be trained specifically in suicide prevention.

This is the fourth time AFSP is hosting a State Capitol Day in Tennessee. Ms. Hall is part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting 35 state capitols across the United States in spring 2017 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators. The event in Nashville is part of an advocacy day co-organized by the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network.

Suicide in Tennessee

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people aged 15-24 in Tennessee, and the fourth leading cause of death for people aged 35-54. More than twice as many people die by suicide in Tennessee annually than by homicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall in Tennessee.

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, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. AFSP celebrates 30 years of service to the suicide prevention movement. 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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