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American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

As Volunteer Field Advocates for the AFSP, my husband and I visited WV Congressional representatives and their staff to advocate for two suicide prevention and education concerns, the Mental Health First Aid Act (S. 152, H.R. 274) and additional funding in the 2014 budget to support the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS). These actions are fundamental to the AFSP's goal to "...advocate to ensure that federal, state, and local governments do all they can to prevent suicide, and to support and care for those at risk."

The Mental Health First Aid Act (S. 152, H.R. 274) "...is a public health education program that helps people identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse...". The Mental Health First Aid Act would allocate $20 million in grants to such programs. After almost 200 AFSP Field Advocates visited Capitol Hill, almost 60 additional Congressional representatives have signed on as cosponsors to this important legislation.

The current budget for the NVDRS is $3.5 million which funds data collection on death from violent acts, including death by suicide, for only 18 states, leaving the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and government officials with incomplete data in which to base prevention and education strategies. The AFSP Field Advocates asked Congress to appropriate $25 million to expand the NVDRS to all 50 states and was happily rewarded with $15 million in the upcoming 2014 fiscal budget.
 

About the AFSP Annual Advocacy Forum:

"The Annual Advocacy Forum is AFSP's single largest effort to educate federal officials about suicide and they ways they can help to prevent it.

Each year, the Advocacy Forum brings together Suicide Prevention Advocates, volunteers, and AFSP staff to network, share the latest research, and provide the public and policy makers with the information and tools they need to be effective advocates in preventing suicide.

Participants from around the country share their personal stories and experiences with suicide, engage members of Congress in discussion on important suicide prevention issues, and share AFSP’s Federal Policy Priorities. Discussions also address funding for AFSP’s educational programs and promising research aimed at reducing the rate of suicide nationwide."

~http://www.afsp.org/advocacy-public-policy/annual-advocacy-forum
 


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