American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Honors Volunteers Changing the Tides on Suicide and Mental Health Nationwide

NEW YORK, April 15, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — This National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 21-27), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) celebrates the tremendous contributions of its nationwide volunteer network. AFSP is at the vanguard of suicide prevention and mental health due to volunteers who dedicate their time, expertise, passion and courage to the cause. A grassroots organization with 74 chapters across the country, including in Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, AFSP’s power lies in its hundreds of thousands-strong volunteer community.


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Logo (PRNewsfoto/AFSP)

“Volunteers are the heart of our organization,” said AFSP Chief Executive Officer Bob Gebbia. “Often people volunteer with AFSP after losing a loved one to suicide or because they or someone they care about has struggled with their mental health, and they want to help save lives. These amazing individuals join an AFSP chapter in their community, help with programs, become advocates, volunteer for an Out of the Darkness walk, and more. We are grateful for their passion and dedication to our cause every day and are honored to spotlight their efforts during National Volunteer Week. We could not make the impact that we do without our volunteers.”

Below are examples of ways volunteers drive the organization’s core efforts including advocacy, research, public education and supporting the loss survivor community. Each contribution can be lifesaving.

On April 25 at 10 am ET, AFSP will hold an Instagram live event called “The Heart of AFSP: How Volunteers Bring Hope to Their Communities.” The event will feature longtime AFSP volunteers and loss survivors Amy Grosso and Dionne C. Monsanto. Tune in at Instagram.com/afspnational.

AFSP Volunteer impact:

Advocacy

Volunteer Advocates speak out and effect change in support of federal, state, and local suicide prevention and mental health policies. In 2023, 2,000 advocates participated in State Capitol Day events, educating their representatives by holding more than 300 meetings with state legislators across 45 states.

51 state bills were enacted that AFSP chapter volunteers actively supported at State Capitol Day events or through letters, testimony, or technical assistance. These include bills that enhance state suicide prevention infrastructure, like the recent passage of permanent funding for 988 in Maryland, support Veteran access to suicide prevention and mental health services and protect LGBTQ+ youth from harmful policies and practices.

“The critical aspect of advocacy is that it is a step beyond just imagining a future without suicide; it is taking active steps to create that future,” said AFSP Tennessee Chapter Volunteer Advocate Caroline Kohl. “These are our representatives, and by educating them on bills that can save lives, we can create change for our state.”

Research Council Advisors

As the largest private funder in suicide research, AFSP’s Scientific Council and Advisors, comprised of volunteer members who are experts in this field, help set the research agenda, and with staff, review annual grant applications. Researchers from around the world volunteer their expertise to help select research to fund and inform AFSP programs and advocacy.

AFSP has invested $80.1M in 774 studies since 1987, and in 2023, funded 27 new studies with $9.1M invested.

Talks Saves Lives Presenters
Volunteers are trusted leaders who impart suicide prevention education in their communities. Since launching in 2015, AFSP’s Talk Saves Lives – available in person or virtually – has reached nearly 240,000 people across all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico with science-informed education about suicide, and how we can all help prevent it. There are also Talks Saves Lives™ programs developed with culturally relevant material specifically for the Hispanic and Latinx, and Black and African American Communities.

TSL Latinx Presenter and AFSP Central Florida Chapter Volunteer, Denisse Centeno Lamas said: “Talk Saves Lives for the Latinx Community is an amazing program. It’s the best suicide prevention program for our community. At AFSP we are continuing to work hard to create resources for underrepresented communities. Whoever you are; if you need tools, we’re here.”

Healing Conversations Volunteers

AFSP was founded in 1987 when several families who lost loved ones to suicide joined forces with scientists to create an organization dedicated to learning what leads people to take their lives, and how to prevent suicide and help those impacted by this health outcome. Loss survivors are core to our mission. AFSP also relies on volunteers to deliver programs supporting the survivor community like Healing Conversations, which gives those who have lost someone the opportunity to speak with a trained peer, who can share comfort and resources.

Last year, AFSP saw nearly 600 Healing Conversations volunteers trained across the country with 1,000 loss survivors reached through these conversations. 

Walks & Fundraising

Since 2002, people across the country have joined the Out of the Darkness Walks to demonstrate that no one is alone thanks to our volunteers. Through the Community Walks, Campus Walks, and the annual Overnight Walk, Walkers start conversations that inspire hope while raising awareness and funds for this important cause. In 2023, there were nearly 600 Out of the Darkness Walks held nationwide.

 In 2023, AFSP raised more than $23.4M through its Community Walks, $1.6M through its Campus Walks and $2.8M from its Overnight Walk.  To find a walk near you and to get involved with your local chapter visit: afsp.org/find-a-local-chapter/.

Each of our volunteers has their own “Why” — the personal story or belief that brought them to AFSP and drives them to raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention. Yet, all of our volunteers are pillars in their community of hope, public education and change.

Amy Grosso who volunteers with AFSP’s West Texas Chapter shared: “Volunteering with AFSP is furthering the mission. No action is too small for a volunteer. Sometimes we think volunteering has to be these grand things, but it’s the everyday actions that we as volunteers do that save lives.”

Learn more about this community striving to prevent suicide. There is a place for you to make a difference.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, including those who have experienced a loss. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through public 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, with a public policy office in Washington, DC, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico, 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, YouTube, LinkedIn and TikTok

Please fill out this press request form with media inquiries and review AFSP’s Safe Reporting Tips

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SOURCE American Foundation for Suicide Prevention