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DEMAND MORE FOR MENTAL HEALTH
RAISE YOUR VOICE

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Forms New Chapter in Puerto Rico

18 Apr 2022 — 3 min read

By AFSP

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Giving Thanks to Our Volunteers

NEW YORK (April 18, 2022) – The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, is thrilled to announce the formation of its new Puerto Rico chapter, bringing the total number of AFSP chapters to 73. The Puerto Rico chapter will continue to support the goal to increase mental health and suicide prevention education in Spanish-speaking and Latinx communities, while addressing the unique mental health needs of Puerto Ricans and providing much needed support in that area for those affected by suicide.

“This accomplishment has been made possible by the dedication of AFSP volunteers who worked tirelessly to organize this first ever AFSP chapter in Puerto Rico” said Bob Gebbia, CEO of AFSP. “I’m pleased that our suicide prevention programs and resources will now be more available on the island, and that our mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide is being expanded to include the people of Puerto Rico.” 

In 2019, our volunteers in Puerto Rico introduced Talk Save Lives, an introductory education program that is community-based with a focus on suicide prevention 101. They also held an International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day program event. In 2020, AFSP organized Puerto Rico’s first Community Walk, as well as a Día de Esperanza (Day of Hope) event. Our volunteers also have made safe reporting a priority in Puerto Rico, contacting local newspapers and TV stations to provide journalists with guidelines on how to responsibly cover news involving suicide. This past year, our volunteers established an executive board for the chapter.

Denisse Centeno-Lamas, AFSP National Board & Chapter Leadership Council Diversity Workgroup chair, has been instrumental in the chapter’s creation. “We hope to change the stigma surrounding mental health on the island, encourage people to have open conversations about mental health, and recognize the common warning signs for suicide. There is nothing more important than saving a life,” says Denisse.

The CDC does not track suicides rates in Puerto Rico, however, there are agencies on the island that do. La Comisión para la Prevención del Suicidio del Departmento de Salud (the Commission for the Prevention of Suicide of the Department of Health) reports on suicide deaths and attempts and has been doing so since 2000. Though these data are not verified by the CDC, they provide insight into the state of suicides on the island. 

In 2020, the last year for which data are available, there were 167 suicides. Suicide rates were highest amongst groups of people between the ages of 50-54 and 55-59. In the last 10 years, data shows that suicides have been steadily decreasing in Puerto Rico. 

As a part of its funded research, AFSP has supported studies for suicide prevention in Puerto Rico. Funding research that helps to understand and prevent suicide in underrepresented communities is core to AFSP’s strategic plan. 

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Resources specific to the Latinx/Hispanic community:

For safe reporting visit  https://afsp.org/about-suicide/for-journalists/. When reporting on suicide, please include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number (1-800-273-TALK), which provides 24/7, free, and confidential support or the Crisis Text Line (text TALK to 741741).

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, including those who have had a loss. 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 an Advocacy office in Washington, DC, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states 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.

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