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Suicide Prevention Advocates to Hold Candlelight Vigil to Raise Awareness in Juneau
Juneau, AK (March 6, 2019) – Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and the fifth leading cause of death in Alaska. On Tuesday, March 26, 2019, advocates from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the largest suicide prevention organization in the United States, will arrive at the state capitol to meet with lawmakers to encourage them to prioritize suicide prevention initiatives for all Alaskans. As part of the event, advocates will be hosting a Talk Saves Lives™ “Lunch & Learn” from 12:00-12:45pm in room 106 of the State Capitol Building to teach the risk and warning signs of suicide and what can be done to prevent it. The event will close with an evening of remembrance and candlelight vigil on the steps of the Capitol from 6:00 – 7:00pm, hosted by the AFSP Alaska Chapter, Alaska Statewide Suicide Prevention Council, and Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition.
“One life lost to suicide is one too many, and it is time we start talking about this public health issue. We need to help bring resources to our communities and assist them through awareness, education, community collaboration, and the biggest one - SUPPORT. I advocate at the AFSP Alaska State Capitol Day event for James, whom I lost to suicide and will forever miss," said Olinka Peterson, AFSP Alaska Chapter Field Advocate.
Advocates attending the three-day State Capitol Day event will be meeting with lawmakers and urging their support of HB 22/ SB 10 to extend the termination date of the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council until the year 2027. The council serves the public interest by actively broadening the public’s awareness of suicide prevention and coordinating the efforts of other suicide prevention entities, including state agencies, regional groups, coalitions, and local communities. It has served as an advisory council to the Legislature and Governor regarding suicide awareness and prevention and released an updated 2018-2022 state plan, Recasting the Net: Promoting Wellness to Prevent Suicide in Alaska.
The AFSP Alaska State Capitol Day is a special day for all who have a connection with or a personal story around the topic of suicide. Volunteers will meet with their state legislators and share their stories about why they participate in this advocacy effort, giving a human face to this important health problem. Advocates hope that by sharing their stories, they will help legislators understand that state investments in mental health and suicide prevention can save lives.
AFSP Alaska advocates are part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting over 40 state capitols across the United States in 2019 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators and their staff. To learn more about AFSP’s advocacy efforts, visit here: https://afsp.org/our-work/advocacy/.
On average, one hundred twenty-nine (129) Americans died by suicide each day in 2017, and 90% of those individuals had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death. AFSP volunteers will urge state lawmakers to be the voice for the thousands of Alaska residents affected by suicide each year.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. 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 a Public Policy Office in Washington, D.C. 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.