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DEMAND MORE FOR MENTAL HEALTH
RAISE YOUR VOICE

Statement by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on President Biden’s State of the Union

3 Mar 2022 — 3 min read

By AFSP

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Suicide Prevention Advocate Perspectives: Why the New 988 Crisis Number Matters – A Conversation with Jen Preble of AFSP Montana

NEW YORK (March 3, 2022) – Following President Biden’s first State of the Union on Tuesday, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention wants to thank the President for announcing a new national mental health strategy dedicated to strengthening system capacity, connecting more Americans to care, and creating a continuum of support – with the goal of giving all Americans critical, life-saving mental health services.

Biden’s strategy comes at a time when our populations’ mental health has been negatively impacted by the pandemic and there have been increases in reports of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, particularly for youth and young adults, caregivers, frontline workers, and LGBTQ people. This increase also extends to BIPOC populations underscoring the importance of mental health equity and improving access to care. For this reason, addressing the national mental health crisis is an essential step towards creating stronger communities.

As part of Biden’s strategy to strengthen system capacity, he highlighted the importance of successfully launching the three-digit 988 suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline and strengthening community-based crisis response. This suicide prevention and mental health crisis service hotline will be available later this year, connecting callers throughout the U.S. to immediate crisis care. AFSP has shown its continued support for increasing federal and state funding for the 988 crisis response system and firmly believes that crisis call centers can be an invaluable resource that connect individuals to services that can save lives. We applaud the Biden-Harris Administration for investing an additional $700 million to build infrastructure within local crisis centers at a time when many are underfunded and struggling to meet current service demand.

Biden’s mental health strategy is one of the many building blocks our community needs to help lower the national suicide rate and falls in lockstep with AFSP’s Project 2025, a partnership-driven, nationwide initiative aimed at reducing the annual rate of suicide in the U.S. by 20% by 2025. While new CDC data shows that the suicide rate decreased by 3% from 2019 to 2020, we do not yet have a full understanding of the longer term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and suicide and we need to continue to create programs, support research and advance policies that contribute to a decrease in suicide.

Let’s take this new Presidential initiative as a reminder that we all have mental health, just as we do physical health, and that we can all work together to get people the help they need and deserve.  For those currently struggling with mental health, know that you are not alone, there are people and resources available to help, and there are proactive steps to protect your mental health and that of loved ones.

Media interested in learning more about suicide, warning signs, and prevention can visit our website at www.afsp.org. For insight on how to report on suicide: https://afsp.org/for-journalists. It is important to NOT mention the method of suicide in reporting as this can lead to possible suicide contagion.

If you need help right now, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

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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