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American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Deepens Awareness of #TalkAwayTheDark and Launches New Guide to Have Difficult Conversations During Mental Health Awareness Month

May 1, 2024 – 5 min read


Dark blue banner with lifesavers

NEW YORK (May 1, 2024) — This Mental Health Awareness Month, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is empowering people to have brave conversations about mental health, and to lean in and ask directly about suicide if struggles are not improving. With suicide continuing to be a serious public health concern, AFSP is building on its breakthrough “Talk Away the Dark” PSA campaign which teaches people how to spot the warning signs of suicide, have caring conversations about suicide and mental health, and connect people to help. 

Throughout the month of May, AFSP is hosting and participating in several virtual conversations and events in collaboration with experts, researchers, leading organizations in mental health, and culminating with a special musical conversation with the iconic rock band Papa Roach. These events will deepen understanding of suicide prevention and equip people to support each other, including in the Spanish speaking community.  

This May, AFSP also launched a new guide in its signature #RealConvo Guides series. The #RealConvo guides provide tools for starting and continuing conversations about mental health and suicide prevention. They cover everyday topics such as how to caringly talk to a survivor of suicide loss, reach out for help when you need it, ask directly if you suspect someone may be at risk, and respond if someone tells you they are having thoughts of suicide. To further assist people in having these brave conversations, AFSP’s new #RealConvo Guide, titledConnecting Someone to Help (When They’re Hesitant)”, covers how to: 

  • Validate the fears and feelings of a person in crisis 
  • Let the person know you hear them 
  • Reassure them there is no shame in getting help 
  • Respond to common hesitations such as, “Therapy’s not for me,” I don’t have insurance,” “I don’t want to be forced into hospitalization,” and more 
  • Successfully connect the person to crisis resources, such as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 
  • Sensitively check back in on the person after a crisis  

“You don’t need to be a mental health expert to have a meaningful and helpful conversation about mental health and suicide,” said AFSP Chief Executive Officer Bob Gebbia. “At AFSP, nurturing these conversations is part of our everyday efforts, but we are especially excited to spotlight their importance through resources and events taking place this Mental Health Awareness Month. By equipping people with tools to start and sustain mental health discussions with our #RealConvo guides, we hope to remind people that starting a conversation, checking in regularly, and making sure people are connected to help can be lifesaving actions.”  

AFSP, in partnership with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance) and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), commissioned a 2022 Harris Poll, that surveyed public attitudes toward suicide prevention and mental health. The poll found that 96% of adults in the U.S. would take action if someone were thinking about suicide and that 83% were interested in learning how they might be able to play a role in helping someone who may be suicidal. “Connecting Someone to Help (When They’re Hesitant)” will meet this strong desire for education and tools to act by showing how you can follow your instinct, reach out when you recognize the warning signs for suicide and #TalkAwayTheDark to connect someone experiencing a mental health crisis to support. 

For more learning opportunities and ways to get involved during May and beyond, tune into an upcoming AFSP virtual event: 

  • May 2, 2 pm ET, Mental Health Parity: Know Your Rights, Protections, and Resources: AFSP Senior Manager of Federal Policy Bill White, and Senior Benefits Advisor at the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) Carmen De Luna, will talk about The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA), also known as the parity law. This federal law requires that health insurers/plans offering mental health and substance use disorder benefits and services provide coverage at the same level (comparable) as care for physical health.  Learn more here. 
  • May 16, 1 pm ET, “Ask Dr. Jill”: AFSP Senior Vice President of Research, Dr. Jill Harkavy-Friedman answers questions about how to help someone who might be hesitant to receive support. This event is in partnership with The Mighty. Tune in here. 
  • May 20, 4 pm ET, Protecting Veteran’s Mental Health: Tune in to this live discussion on AFSP’s Facebook and YouTube channels to hear AFSP Senior Federal Policy Manager Bill White, and AFSP Michigan Chapter Volunteer Ian Perry, discuss the policies we can all support and the role everyone can play in protecting Veteran’s mental health. 
  • May 22, Noon – 1 pm ET, Learn About Effective Treatments That Help Hispanic and Latine Youth Who Struggle with Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors: Join AFSP’s Florida and Puerto Rico Chapters for a virtual conversation with leading suicide prevention researcher Dr. Duarté-Vélez about effective treatments for youth experiencing suicidal ideation and behaviors, as well as the role we can all play in preventing youth suicide. Register here. (This conversation will be in Spanish only) 
  • May 23, 1 pm ET, Overcoming Loneliness and Isolation Twitter Chat: The Presence of Mind initiative, led by Kaiser Permanente, will team up with AFSP, NAMI, and other mental health nonprofit organizations to engage in a Twitter/X Chat to encourage young adults to gain a better understanding of mental health and provide tools for overcoming feelings of loneliness. Tune in here. 
  • May 28th, Noon ET, Mental Health and the Queer Community: Join AFSP Chief Medical Officer Dr. Christine Yu Moutier, for an Instagram live conversation with the National LGBTQ Task Force. The conversation will focus on the importance of prioritizing mental health within the Queer community and resources for those who might be struggling. 
  • May 30, 4 pm ET, Talk Away the Dark: A Musical Conversation with Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach: Tune in to AFSP’s YouTube and Facebook channels to hear rock legend Jacoby Shaddix and AFSP’s Director of Writing and Entertainment Brett Wean, discuss mental health and the healing power of music.  

More information about how to engage in meaningful conversations about mental health can be found at 


The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, including those who have experienced a loss. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through public 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, DC, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico, 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, YouTube, LinkedIn and TikTok.    

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