If you live in Chicago or will be in town on Saturday, March 14th, join me at the Hilton Magnificent Mile and meet the good folks carrying out the mission of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Volunteers from all over will gather to share stories and learn how to increase awareness for the cause. I will be giving the volunteers useful tips on how to engage others through storytelling.
Suicide is a serious public health problem that takes an enormous toll on families, friends, classmates, co-workers, and communities, as well as on our military personnel and veterans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013–the most recent year for which full data is available–someone in the United States died by suicide every 12.9 minutes. This makes it the 10th leading cause of death for Americans, but unlike many other leading causes, suicide continues to claim more lives each year. Suicide is currently the third leading cause of death among young people age 15 to 24. The highest overall rates of suicide are for adults age 40 to 59.
To know the reason for someone’s suicide death is challenging. Research has shown that most people who die by suicide have a potentially treatable mental disorder at the time of their death. The disorder has often gone unrecognized and untreated. What we know about the causes of suicide is lagging behind that of other life-threatening illnesses because the stigma surrounding suicide has limited society’s investment in vital research. To find out more, you can go to the website of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Since its founding in 1987, AFSP has connected tens of thousands of people who have lost a family member, loved one or friend to suicide and help them cope. AFSP has reached thousands of individuals who are at risk for suicide, as well as those who love and care for them to make prevention possible. In order to help people understand the facts, AFSP has gained the participation of members of the scientific and clinical communities, who conduct groundbreaking research on suicide and its prevention.
To fully achieve its mission, AFSP engages individuals and families, scientists and legislators, and community organizations in essential dialogue to increase awareness, understanding and support for those impacted by suicide.
Register today for the AFSP Volunteer Gathering on Saturday, March 14th and take the first step with me. It is a journey in which everyone must participate because the stories surrounding suicide reflects what’s happening in our homes, our schools and our communities. The more we openly talk about it and listen, the better we can see and act.