Advocates to Storm State Capitol to Request Resources to Help Fight Suicide

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Contact: Samantha Bruers, ND/SD Area Director, 701-371-1194, [email protected]

BISMARCK, ND (February 6, 2017) – North Dakota has one of the highest suicide rates in the United States, ranking 15th in the nation. To help prevent this tragic loss of life, volunteer advocates from the North Dakota chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are visiting the state capitol on Tuesday, February 7 to convince their legislative leaders to support section 5 of House Bill 1040, which will create a statewide database of available mental health resources for those in dire need. If passed, this legislation will appropriate funds to be used for the state’s FirstLink Helpline (2-1-1).

“Our brain health is just as important as our heart health. It is time that mental health gets the same priority as physical health. We can help achieve this with the support of our legislators,” said Sara Dukart, volunteer field ambassador with the AFSP North Dakota chapter.

The FirstLink 24-Hour Helpline is accredited by American Association of Suicidology and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and connects callers to information about available health services. Specifically, the FirstLink Helpline provides confidential listening and support, in addition to information and referrals on abuse/assault, addiction, disabilities, mental health, military, and suicide. The call centers have call specialists who are trained in crisis intervention.

In 2016, 49,353 calls were handled by the FirstLink Helpline, 2,512 of which were suicide-related calls. Of these calls, 35 percent were looking for information, 18 percent were looking for referrals, 38 percent of the time the callers needed support, and 10 percent of the time, suicide crisis intervention was necessary.

This is the second time AFSP is hosting a State Capitol Day in North Dakota. Ms. Dukart 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 Bismarck is part of a larger advocacy day organized by the North Dakota Association of Nonprofit Organization. Volunteer advocates will also host an ice cream social in which legislators are invited to meet with constituents to hear their concerns.

Suicide in North Dakota

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15-34 in North Dakota, and the third leading cause of death for people aged 10-14. Suicide cost North Dakota a total of $140 million of combined lifetime medical and work loss cost in 2010, or an average of $1.3 million per suicide death. On average one person dies by suicide every 71 hours in the state.

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, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., 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.