Advocates Visit Richmond to Prevent Youth Suicide
Richmond, VA (February 6, 2019) – Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and it is the eleventh leading cause of death in Virginia. On Friday, February 8, advocates from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the largest suicide prevention organization in the United States, will arrive at the state capitol to meet with lawmakers to encourage them to prioritize suicide prevention initiatives for Virginia’s youth, including SB 1472 to require Mental Health First Aid training for full-time teachers and other school personnel and HB 1735 to establish the Commission on Student Behavioral Health.
“For mental health awareness and suicide prevention, knowledge truly is power. That is why AFSP advocates take Virginia’s State Capitol Day event so seriously. It is a critical opportunity for us to be the voice for those who may be unable to speak out. By sharing our stories and educating local legislators, AFSP advocates are putting themselves at the forefront of suicide prevention policy in Virginia,” said Trevor Bernard, National Capital Area Chapter Public Policy Committee Member.
Advocates will also be offering thanks to legislators for their support of last year’s HB 569, which now requires the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to report annually by December 1 to the Governor and the General Assembly on the Department’s activities related to suicide prevention across the lifespan (see https://rga.lis.virginia.gov/Published/2018/RD556/PDF for the 2018 report).
The AFSP Virginia State Capitol Day is a special day for all who have a connection with or a personal story around the topic of suicide. Volunteers will meet with their state legislators and share their stories about why they participate in this advocacy effort, giving a human face to this leading, yet preventable public 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.
AFSP Virginia and National Capital Area Chapter advocates 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/.
One American dies by suicide every 11.14 minutes and 90% of those who die by suicide 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 Virginia 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, and 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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