Contact: Dennis Gillan ([email protected]), 803-727-4301
Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Advocates Gather in Columbia
COLUMBIA, SC (May 6, 2019) – Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and in South Carolina. On Wednesday, May 8, advocates from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the largest suicide prevention organization in the United States, will partner with representatives from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) SC, Mental Health America (MHA) of SC, and the South Carolina Department of Mental Health to hold a press conference urging lawmakers to continue to prioritize mental health and suicide prevention efforts statewide. The press conference will take place on the South Lawn/Steps of the State House at 10:00 a.m.
“Suicide is a huge but largely preventable public health problem, causing almost half of all violent deaths and resulting in almost one million fatalities every year globally. In South Carolina, we lost 838 good people to suicide in 2017, and we all know that one death by suicide is one too many. We all have a part to play in preventing suicide, and today we are calling on our respected legislators to do their part,” said Dennis Gillan, AFSP South Carolina Chapter Board Chair.
Following the press conference, advocates from the AFSP South Carolina Chapter will visit with their state legislators and share their stories, underscoring that suicide is preventable and giving a human face to this important public 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. Advocates will also ask SC legislators to prioritize prevention efforts in four key areas: training for health professionals in suicide assessment, treatment, and management; prevention efforts on college campuses; comprehensive secondary school policies in suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention; and mental health parity enforcement and reporting.
AFSP South Carolina 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, 129 Americans died by suicide each day in 2017, and upwards of 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 South Carolina 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.