Advocates Urge Lawmakers in Phoenix to Support Mental Health & Prevent Suicide
PHOENIX, AZ (January 30, 2020) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and the eighth leading cause of death in Arizona. On Monday, February 3, advocates from the Arizona Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the largest suicide prevention organization in the United States, will meet with lawmakers to urge their support of efforts to ensure mental health parity compliance across the state, to expand the mental health workforce (HB 2072), and to temporarily reduce access to firearms for individuals at risk for suicide (HB 2321). Arizona State Senator Kate Brophy-McGee (District 28, Maricopa County) will be a featured speaker during the event.
“People often ask me how they can help prevent suicide. I think advocacy is a great way to make your voice heard. Telling our elected officials how suicide has impacted our lives helps them see why we need to make changes on a policy level. It’s an important piece of the puzzle that people don’t utilize as often as they should,” said Priscilla Brown, AFSP Arizona Chapter Board Member and Advocacy Chair.
HB 2072 [Blackman] would provide loan forgiveness for licensed mental health professionals who make a commitment to provide at least five years of consecutive service in the State Department of Corrections or at a correctional facility operated by or under contract with the State Departments of Corrections or Juvenile Corrections. Loan forgiveness programs encourage new graduates to pursue careers in mental health and to provide services to underserved communities and populations. HB 2321 [Friese] would create a legal process for Severe Threat Orders of Protection to temporarily prohibit individuals at risk for harming themselves from possessing firearms. These orders can help keep individuals at risk for suicide safe when safe storage or voluntary removal of firearms is not an option.
The AFSP Arizona 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 legislators to share their stories about why they participate in this advocacy effort, giving a human face to this important public health problem. Advocates hope that by sharing their stories, they will help lawmakers understand that investments in mental health and suicide prevention can save lives.
AFSP Arizona Chapter advocates are part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will visit state capitols across the United States in 2020 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to legislators and their staff. To learn more about AFSP’s advocacy efforts, visit here: https://afsp.org/our-work/advocacy/.
On average, 129 Americans died by suicide each day in 2017, and upwards of 90% of those individuals 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 residents across the state affected by mental health conditions and 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, with a Public Policy Office in Washington, D.C. AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia 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.