Suicide Prevention Advocates to Visit Richmond to Bring Awareness to Mental Health

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RICHMOND, VA (February 7, 2018) – Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and it is the 11th leading cause of death in Virginia. On Thursday, February 8, 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 urging support for House Bill (HB) 569, which would require the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to report annually to the Governor and General Assembly on its activities related to suicide prevention across the lifespan.

“Suicide knows no bounds; it can truly affect anyone. My family and I never thought that my brother, Timmy, would ever be affected by mental illness. We must continue to raise awareness about suicide prevention and break down the stigma surrounding mental illness so that more people will know the warning signs. By joining together with our personal stories and a common goal, we can drive the legislative reform we need to save lives,” said Haley Thompson, Advocacy Chair with the AFSP Virginia Chapter.

Last year’s HB 2258 (passed unanimously, signed 3/13/17) required DBHDS to report to the governor and the Virginia General Assembly on its activities related to suicide prevention across the lifespan by 12/1/17. HB 569 makes this an annual requirement. AFSP advocates for state initiatives to address suicide prevention across the lifespan, encourage active and full implementation by public and private partners across the state, and evaluate progress. Timely, accurate, and complete data is needed from those who are charged with implementing suicide prevention activities in order to evaluate the effectiveness of those activities. Evaluation is critical as states deal with limited resources to tackle critical public health problems, including suicide.

The AFSP Virginia 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. Attendees hope that by sharing their stories, it will help legislators understand the need for suicide prevention and mental health legislation.

This is the first State Capitol Day in Virginia. The AFSP Virginia and AFSP National Capitol Area chapter 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. To learn more about AFSP’s advocacy efforts, visit here: https://afsp.org/our-work/advocacy/.

Suicide in Virginia

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for people ages 10-34 in Virginia and the 4th leading cause of death for people aged 35-54. On average one person dies by suicide every 7.5 hours in the state, and nearly three times as many people die by suicide in Virginia 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: Haley Thompson 207-939-4187, haleyellenthompson@gmail.com

 

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