Suicide Prevention Advocates Gather in Annapolis

              Contact: Sue Maskaleris ([email protected])

Suicide Prevention Advocates Gather in Annapolis

ANNAPOLIS, MD (February 6, 2020) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and the eleventh leading cause of death in Maryland.  On Thursday, February 13, advocates from the Maryland Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the largest suicide prevention organization in the United States, will storm the state capitol in Annapolis to urge lawmakers to prioritize suicide prevention and mental health legislation.  Priority bills include SB 334 & HB 455, which aim to strengthen mental health parity compliance and oversight statewide by requiring health insurers to submit regular parity compliance reports to the Insurance Commissioner and increasing public awareness of how to submit complaints of parity violations.

“As volunteers with AFSP, we have lived with mental health conditions and suicide loss. As advocates, we have the opportunity to share those stories directly with the men and women we’ve elected to represent us in Annapolis. Our personal stories are the most impactful tool we have. As an advocate, one person truly can have a direct impact on public policy, legislation and fiscal priorities,” said Sue Maskaleris. AFSP Maryland Chapter Board Member and Advocacy/Public Policy Committee Chair.

AFSP advocates will also be urging legislators to support: SB 789, establishing the Maryland Suicide Fatality Review Committee; SB 324, requiring Veteran behavioral health services to include Mental Health First Aid training; HB 997, establishing a Veterans’ Suicide Prevention Task Force; SB 565 & HB 736, requiring the development and implementation of law enforcement employee assistance programs; and SB 454, requiring first responders and law enforcement officers to complete mental health awareness training.

The AFSP Maryland Capitol Day is a special day for all who have a connection with or a personal story around the topic of suicide. Attendees will meet with their legislators to share their stories about why they participate in this advocacy effort, giving a human face to this important public health problem. Advocates hope that by sharing their stories, they will help lawmakers understand that investments in mental health and suicide prevention can save lives.

AFSP Maryland Chapter advocates are part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will visit state capitols across the United States in 2020 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to legislators and their staff. To learn more about AFSP’s advocacy efforts, visit here: https://afsp.org/our-work/advocacy/.

On average, 132 Americans died by suicide each day in 2018, 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 residents across the state affected by mental health conditions and 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 and the District of Columbia 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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