PIERRE, SD (February 12, 2018) – Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and it is the 9th leading cause of death in South Dakota. On Wednesday, February 14, 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 support legislation that makes suicide prevention and mental health care a top priority for the year. Advocates will be emphasizing the importance of school policies in suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention as a way to boost existing K-12 school suicide prevention efforts.
“I am an advocate for suicide prevention to honor my brother and my students that I have lost to suicide. As advocates for our state, we are all volunteers. We are suicide loss survivors and/or people who struggle with our own mental health. Telling our stories of loss and struggles is important because it is important that our elected officials hear firsthand about the devastating personal, financial and emotional toll suicide plays in our families and communities. Suicide is preventable and it is our goal to reinforce that message as we meet with our legislators and their staff,” said Anna Eidem, AFSP South Dakota Chapter Board Chair & Field Ambassador.
This is the first State Capitol Day in South Dakota. AFSP South Dakota advocates are part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting nearly 40 state capitols across the United States in 2018 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators and their staff. Attendees hope that by sharing their stories, it will help the legislators understand the need for suicide prevention and mental health legislation. To learn more about AFSP’s advocacy efforts, visit here: https://afsp.org/our-work/advocacy/.
Very few schools have policies in place to address suicide prevention, intervention, or postvention. Preventive approaches like training school personnel cannot be done in isolation, and should be built on a foundation that also responds to two very serious issues currently facing South Dakota schools – students at high risk of suicide and a death by suicide in the school community. With intervention and postvention protocols in place to ensure students at-risk receive appropriate services and that suicides in the school community are addressed safely, preventive approaches such as staff training will be even more likely to prevent suicide. Clear protocols serve as an easily-accessible roadmap, eliminate confusion over educator roles and the referral process, and equip educators with the tools to respond safely when a suicide attempt or suicide death does occur in the school community.
Suicide in South Dakota
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 10-44 in South Dakota and the 8th leading cause of death for people aged 55-64. On average one person dies by suicide every two days in the state, and four times as many people die by suicide in South Dakota annually than by homicide.
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, and 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.
Contact: Sam Bruers, Area Director of South and North Dakota, [email protected], 701-371-1194
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