The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the only national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to funding research, developing prevention initiatives and offering educational programs and conferences for survivors, mental health professionals, physicians and the public. The Foundationâ s activities include: Supporting research projects that help further the understanding and treatment of depression and the prevention of suicide Providing information and education about depression and suicide Promoting professional education for the recognition and treatment of depressed and suicidal individuals Publicizing the magnitude of the problems of depression and suicide and the need for research, prevention and treatment Supporting programs for suicide survivor treatment, research and education
In 1987, a number of leading experts on suicide came together with business and community leaders and survivors of suicide to form the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. They believed that only a combined effort would make it possible to fund the research necessary for progress in the prevention of suicide. Such an approach has proven successful with heart disease, cancer and diabetes and it was hoped that it would be successful in dealing with depression and suicide. Many of our original founders were concerned with the alarming rise in youth suicide over the past four decades. During this period, the suicide of young men had tripled; that of young women had doubled. Suicide is now the second major cause of death among high school and college students. Suicide is even more frequent among older people. The highest rates are found in men over 50. Before the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention was formed, there was no national non-profit organization dedicated to funding the research, education, and treatment programs necessary to prevent suicide. Over the past thirteen years, we have changed that. AFSP Institutional Grants helped major medical centers throughout the country such as Columbia, Einstein, Harvard, Western Psychiatric in Pittsburgh, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and Emory University to become important centers for suicide research. AFSP Individual Grants are helping both new and established investigators pursue promising areas of research. AFSP educational conferences are bringing the latest advances in the treatment of depression and the prevention of suicide to mental health professionals in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. AFSP Postdoctoral Fellowships and Young Investigator Awards are attracting talented young scientists into careers in suicide research. AFSP is supporting workshops for survivor group leaders, conferences on survivor problems, regional survivor group directories, and a special 800 number for referrals to these groups. AFSPâ s National Suicide Data Bank is accumulating invaluable information regarding completed suicide that has been heretofore unavailable. AFSPâ s 21 affiliates are funding model programs aimed at identifying individuals at risk for suicide. Another key to our success has been our relationship with more than 400 survivors of suicide groups around the country. These groups, composed of people who have lost someone to suicide and who help each other go forward with their lives, are particularly interested in and supportive of work that will help others avoid the suffering they have undergone. Each May, the Foundation hosts the Lifesavers Dinner in New York City, which helps us raise money for our work, calls public attention to our efforts, and brings together hundreds business, professional, and community leaders from all over the country who are interested in suicide prevention. Through this combination of activities, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is developing an integrated, nationwide program that is enabling mental health professionals, business and community leaders, the concerned public, and survivors to join together to do something to prevent the tragedy of suicide.