Suicide is 100% preventable and yet it is one of the top five leading causes of death in Georgia, and the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Together, we can raise our voices about mental health conditions and fight to prevent suicide.
I lost my father to suicide when I was nine years old. At the time, I had no knowledge of mental health conditions or why someone would take their own life. Our family was completely shaken; none of us saw it coming. My father was always so full of life and love for everyone around him. I would give anything to have done something to save him. I fight to prevent suicide in honor of my father.
My case is the perfect example of why we need to erase the stigma against mental health. I believe that children should be taught about mental health early on, and that seeking help is part of healing. Just like you would visit a doctor to heal your broken leg, you should visit a doctor to check up on your mental well-being.
Thanks to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we are getting closer and closer to decreasing the suicide rate and increasing mental health awareness and education.
I first discovered AFSP when I found the Out of the Darkness walk in Atlanta in 2014. I signed up for the walk for the first time and raised over $1,000. To see all of my friends and family donate to support my team and help in the fight against suicide was so inspiring. After participating in the walk and seeing the thousands of people who understood what I was going through, I knew that I wanted to be a part of AFSP and take on something that was bigger than me.
Currently, I am a volunteer for AFSP and I serve on the Georgia chapter’s first Junior Board. We are a group of young professionals who all share an amazing passion for suicide prevention. We raised about $13,000 at our Party for Prevention spring fundraiser in May of this year. We hosted the event at Orpheus Brewing, complete with live music, delicious barbeque and a great live band. We raised the money through ticket sales, sponsorships and a silent auction. It was so rewarding to see this event through from start to finish. I can’t wait to see what the Junior Board will do next!
I also had the honor of attending AFSP’s 2016 Advocacy Forum in Washington D.C. It was the trip of a lifetime and I am so happy that I was a part of it. We marched up to Capitol Hill with a passion in our hearts so strong and our voices ready to be heard.
One of our ‘asks’ was to support the Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act, which was then signed into law by President Obama on June 30th. Our voices were heard.
Another one of our ‘asks’ was to discuss the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. This act was approved by a 422-2 vote by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year. Our voices were heard.
The passing of these two acts is proof that we can lift the stigma against mental health. There are so many ways to get involved to support the goal of raising awareness for mental health, and fighting to prevent suicide. If you have a passion, your voice will be heard and together, we can #BetheVoice to #StopSuicide.