This year marks the 35th Anniversary of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, founded in 1987 by a small group of families affected by suicide loss, who banded together with a team of researchers eager to learn more about how we can prevent future loss of life.
Our organization has come a long way since then – expanding on its initial focus on suicide research to now include investments in education, advocacy and support to those affected by suicide, while increasing our investment in research.
Our culture has also come a long way since then. We know from public opinion polling that the majority of people now feel that mental health is just as real, and as important, as physical health, and that suicide can be prevented. And while some are still hesitant to talk about it, many people have become comfortable having real conversations about what they and their loved ones are feeling – ensuring that more people connect with help when they need it. This was not the case 35 years ago – when mental health was misunderstood, and suicide was shrouded in secrecy.
Over the years, we’ve learned a great deal through our research about what can be done to save more lives. And our founders could not have begun to imagine AFSP’s Project 2025, our bold initiative to reduce the suicide rate in the U.S 20% by 2025, and the suicide prevention work Project 2025 is driving in healthcare systems, with emergency medicine, in corrections, and with the firearms-owning community. Similarly, AFSP’s founders would be proud of our advocacy efforts, nationwide network of chapters, Out of the Darkness Walks, prevention and loss and healing programs, and workplace programs, which collectively provide understanding and comfort, encourage help-seeking and positively impact how the world responds to this leading cause of death.
As we begin our 36th year, we are further demonstrating our commitment to reaching more people by expanding our presence nationally and in communities across the country, ensuring our programs and resources make an even greater impact. This includes the formation of our newest chapter in Puerto Rico, bringing our total number of chapters to 73.
We have been leading suicide prevention for 35 years, but there is still progress to be made. We are here for you, and want you to know that we will continue the fight to save lives and bring hope to anyone affected by suicide. Thank you for being a part of our journey.