American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Provides Resources to Talk Away the Dark During National Suicide Prevention Month and Beyond
August 29, 2023 – 5 min read
NEW YORK (August 29, 2023) - In recognition of September as National Suicide Prevention Month, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), a leading suicide prevention organization in the U.S., is empowering the public by recommending key actions that everyone can take to help save lives in their communities.
While suicide prevention matters every day of the year, National Suicide Prevention Month shines a light on this leading cause of death to connect people with support and to spread the hopeful message that help is available.
These efforts are more important than ever. After two years of decline, deaths by suicide increased in the U.S. in 2021, and provisional data from the CDC point to further increases in 2022. Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S., but research shows it can be prevented.
“AFSP’s efforts to save lives are making a difference,” said AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia. “We see progress in the legislation passed at the state and federal levels, the growth in knowledge about prevention from research, the rooms filled with people eager to learn how to support others at our educational sessions and in the strength of our survivor community gathering to heal across the country. Our work to bring suicide prevention to every corner of the nation is only possible because of dedicated people like you—we need your voice to let others know they’re not alone and that help is available.”
The more that we openly, honestly, and directly talk about suicide, the more we can help to prevent it. In spring 2023, AFSP launched a campaign called Talk Away the Dark that features a public service announcement that shows the impact of a simple, direct dialogue about suicide and how to initiate those conversations to save lives.
There are countless ways to Talk Away the Dark including initiating conversations about mental health, learning the warning signs and risk factors, speaking up and making sure more people know what research reveals about how to prevent suicide, lighting the way for those in distress to feel comfortable asking for help, and knowing what to say to support survivors of suicide loss.
As we recognize National Suicide Prevention Month this September, below are six actions that each of us can take to make a difference. Learn more at www.afsp.org/talkawaythedark.
HOW TO TAKE ACTION
1. Join a local AFSP chapter
With 74 chapters nationwide and programming in all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico, AFSP’s chapters are taking action on a grassroots level to prevent suicide. Start a conversation in your community and send the message that suicide no longer hides in the shadows. Connect with your local AFSP chapter and join a Walk this fall to raise awareness and funds, and spread hope with other AFSP volunteers through local programs, activities and events.
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization,” said Eileen Schell, an AFSP South Carolina Chapter volunteer. “There’s a place for everyone. There’s a job for everyone. Someone with a little time to give or a lot. We’ll plug them in and provide them with the tools they'll need to be successful. Volunteering makes a difference.”
2. Educate yourself and others
Knowledge and understanding deepens conversations. Bring suicide prevention resources to your school, workplace and community spaces through AFSP’s Talk Saves Lives program. The presentation provides a basic understanding of suicide trends, warning signs, how to help someone in crisis and resources. Experience it virtually or by signing up through your local chapter.
AFSP’s flagship education program is available in modules for different audiences, including TSL: Latinx and Hispanic Communities – which you can bring to your community for National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sep. 15-Oct. 15) and beyond.
“My own experiences have motivated me to help others understand what can cause suicide and how we can all have a role in preventing it,” says TSL Latinx presenter Tatiana Villarreal-Otálora PhD, LCSW. “Because of my cultural background I can really connect with a Latinx audience to talk about a topic that is culturally taboo.”
3. Advocate for support
“Coming together as advocates helps ensure that legislators listen to us. Sharing our stories helps make the importance of suicide prevention more than just about numbers," said AFSP National Public Policy Council Member and AFSP Alabama Chapter Advocacy Ambassador Marissa Grayson.
4. Watch a special episode of “Ask Dr. Jill”
Research helps us understand what leads someone to suicide and how we may effectively save more lives. On Wednesday, September 13 at 3 pm ET, tune in to a special episode of Ask Dr. Jill. It will be hosted by AFSP’s Senior Vice President of Research, Dr. Jill Harkavy-Friedman with guest Dr. Madelyn Gould, a renowned research authority on suicide contagion and reporting practices that safely drive the national conversation and promote seeking help for those who struggle. RSVP here.
5. Show up to heal.
Plan to attend an International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day event to connect with a community that understands the complex grief of suicide loss. Those who have lost a loved one to suicide can feel hesitant to tell others the type of loss they have experienced. September is a great time to spread the word about the hundreds of local and virtual “Survivor Day” events taking place each November – including Día de Esperanza (Day of Hope) for the Hispanic and Spanish-speaking community – enabling survivors of suicide loss to come together to find connection, understanding, and hope through their shared experience.
6. Make Mental Health Help Available
Even when people know about available mental health services, shame, fear, and embarrassment often prevent them from seeking help. AFSP’s novel Interactive Screening Program (ISP) breaks through this barrier. It’s a customized platform that starts a confidential conversation that connects people to support. Learn how to bring ISP to your school or organization.
Join AFSP in Talking Away the Dark this September and beyond.
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 including 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, and YouTube.
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