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The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research and education, and to reaching out to people with mood disorders and those impacted by suicide.
To fully achieve its mission, AFSP engages in the following Six Core Strategies:
- Funds scientific research
- Offers educational programs for professionals
- Educates the public about mood disorders and suicide prevention
- Promotes policies and legislation that impact suicide and prevention
- Provides programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and involves them in the work of the Foundation
- Provides programs and resources for people with mood disorders and their families, and involves them in the work of the Foundation
The Foundation's activities include:
- Supporting research that is improving our understanding of suicide and its prevention. Since 2000, AFSP has invested over $8 million in new studies, including research into treatments for people who are depressed and suicidal.
- Providing education and information about depression and suicide to professionals, the media and the public through workshops, trainings, the AFSP website, videos, publications, brochures and public service announcements. AFSP's PSA, "Suicide Shouldn't be a Secret" has reached 90 million television viewers.
- Publicizing the magnitude of the problems of depression and suicide, advocating for policies and legislation that can help prevent suicide and working to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide.
- Offering programs for survivors of suicide loss that can be of assistance and involving survivors in suicide prevention. AFSP survivor initiatives include the National Survivors of Suicide Day program, which was broadcast to over 130 communities and was simulcast on the AFSP website, the Survivor e-Network and trainings for survivor support group facilitators.
In 1987, a number of leading experts on suicide came together with business and community leaders and survivors of suicide to form AFSP, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. 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 AFSP was formed, there was no national not-for-profit organization dedicated to funding the research, education and treatment programs necessary to prevent suicide. Over the past 20 years, we have changed that.
- Cindy Bertossa-Weger
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