Suicide Prevention Advocates Gather in Augusta for AFSP State Capitol Day

 

             Contact: Anne Falk ([email protected])

Suicide Prevention Advocates Gather in Augusta for AFSP State Capitol Day

AUGUSTA, ME (February 22, 2019) – Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and the ninth leading cause of death in Maine.  On Tuesday, February 26, advocates from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 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 Maine residents, including increasing access to mental health services and trained health providers and reducing access to lethal means by persons at-risk for suicide.

“Suicide is a preventable tragedy. The rates of suicide in Maine, and nationwide, continue to increase while rates for other leading causes of death are declining.  There is no one cause of suicide. More funding, research, training, and awareness are critical to saving lives. Support from lawmakers and the community is needed to decrease the stigma of suicide and to provide more opportunities for education and training at all levels and in all circles. AFSP is the leading organization funding and focused on suicide, coordinating with many other groups to address this public health crisis,” said Anne Falk, AFSP Maine Chapter Board Member and Field Advocate.

AFSP Maine advocates will be asking legislators to support: (1) LD 3 establishing and providing funding for the Mental Health Providers Loan Repayment Program to increase the number of mental health providers in underserved practice areas; (2) LD 803 establishing four 24/7 regional crisis intervention centers to be operated and maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services; (3) LD 429 requiring licensed psychologists, social workers, and clinical professional counselors to complete a minimum of 6 hours of course work in suicide prevention, assessment, treatment, or management in the 10 years prior to license renewal; (4) LD 203 directing the Department of Transportation to construct and maintain certain barrier fences for suicide prevention; and (5) LD 97 authorizing final adoption of the Department of Education rule necessary to implement 2018’s LD 1694 which requires school prevention, intervention, and postvention protocols.

The first AFSP Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine 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.

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