Nation’s Largest Suicide Prevention Organization and Aetna Launch New Education Program to Potentially Save Thousands of Lives

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AFSP Contact: Alexis O’Brien, PR Director, 347-826-3577, aobrien@afsp.org
Aetna Contact: Ethan Slavin, Communications Director, 860-273-6095, slavine@aetna.com


Education Initiative Supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Project 2025 Goal to Reduce the Annual Suicide Rate 20 Percent by 2025

NEW YORK (September 12, 2017) – Today, as part of National Suicide Prevention Week, September 10-16, Aetna, one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, donated $50,000 to the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This donation will be earmarked for Aetna to use AFSP’s many research-based education programs for their members nationwide. Aetna is proud to join AFSP in its goal to reduce the suicide rate 20 percent by the year 2025, as part of AFSP’s Project 2025 initiative.

“Suicide is a public health crisis that must be tackled head on,” said Louise Murphy, Head of Aetna Behavioral Health. “We are strongly committed to combating stigma and raising awareness for important mental health issues, and are proud to partner with AFSP in their effort to reduce the suicide rate through Project 2025. Mental illness is a risk factor for suicide, but having a mental health condition does not mean one will die by suicide. We know from the research that, just as with a physical illness such as a heart condition, there are ways we can promote and improve mental well-being. Access to appropriate and timely care is important. By making these treatments available, and sharing AFSP’s well-developed education programs, Aetna will continue to strive to offer the best possible solutions to our members.”

Aetna is AFSP’s first partner in the Large Healthcare Systems area of Project 2025. Launched in October 2015, Project 2025 is a high-impact, collaborative initiative developed by AFSP, aimed at achieving the organization’s bold goal of reducing the annual suicide rate 20 percent by 2025. Using a dynamic systems model approach based on what the evidence tells us about suicide, AFSP has determined a series of actions and critical areas to help reach the goal. So far, there are interventions needed in four critical areas including: (1) Firearms, (2) Emergency Departments (3) Large Healthcare Systems and (4) Corrections Settings – cumulatively, we can expect to save nearly 20,000 lives through 2025. If we do a better job of identifying people who are at risk in Large Healthcare Systems, provide them with a short-term intervention and include better follow-up care, we can expect an estimated 9,200 lives saved through 2025.

“I’m pleased that Aetna is working with us to educate local communities about mental health and suicide prevention,” said Robert Gebbia, AFSP CEO. “We knew when we launched Project 2025 that it would take this kind of investment to meet our bold goal of reducing the suicide rate 20 percent by the year 2025. We did not know, however, who would join us to help meet the goal. It’s through partnerships like this one with Aetna, that we are going to meet the goal.”

AFSP offers many education programs to help members of the community know how to recognize the signs of suicide and what to do if they are worried about someone. One such education program that can be brought to Aetna’s members includes Talk Saves Lives: An Introduction to Suicide Prevention™, a community-based presentation that provides an overview and understanding of mental health and suicide, and the benefits of connecting with those who may be struggling. There are also other AFSP programs that are being considered for workplaces, community agencies and college campuses, for example.

Both Aetna and AFSP are partners in The Campaign to Change Direction, a collection of concerned citizens, nonprofit leaders, and leaders from the private sector who have come together to change the culture in America about mental health, mental illness, and wellness.

About Aetna
Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving an estimated 44.7 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers’ compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna’s customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see www.aetna.com and learn about how Aetna is helping to build a healthier world. @AetnaNews

About AFSP
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.

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