The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) aims to prevent suicide through education, research, advocacy, and loss support. Founded in 1987, AFSP began as a research organization and research continues to be at the forefront of their organization. AFSP incorporates research results into evidence-based programs to prevent suicide.
One of AFSP’s main goals is to get people in tune with their mental health so that they can recognize when they are struggling and know how to seek help. Common ways to seek help are through therapists, school counselors, mental health hotlines, friends, and family. AFSP encourages schools to promote how and where students can get support. However, even when students are aware of the resources available to them, some may be hesitant to reach out due to stigma about mental health issues. Therefore, AFSP works to change attitudes about help-seeking so that people feel more empowered to take care of their mental health.
Educators play a crucial role in suicide prevention because they may be able to detect changes in students’ mental health. AFSP develops training programs that show teachers how and when to intervene and refer students to counselors. These programs also help schools mindfully respond to suicide deaths, such as by determining the best way to communicate the crisis and sourcing additional counsellors and support resources.
Advocacy at both the state and federal levels is another important aspect of AFSP. Some of their victories include mandatory suicide prevention programs for schools and the Excellence in Mental Health Act, which makes it easier for Americans to access mental health treatment services.
Donations to AFSP go towards funding their research programs as well as continuing education and advocacy about suicide prevention and mental health. By raising awareness about this issue and making resources available, more people can find the help they need.