JACKSON, Miss., Jan. 7, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and it is the eighth leading cause of death in Mississippi. On Tuesday, January 15, 2019, advocates from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the largest suicide prevention organization in the United States, will arrive at the state capitol to meet with lawmakers to encourage them to support legislation to improve access to mental health care and make suicide prevention a top priority for the year.

«Suicide is a mental health illness that is overwhelming our nation and takes our loved ones, friends and does not discriminate! We need more people, including legislators who are willing to speak up and support us and our cause.  We need to bring parity to mental health and continue to work to end the stigma of mental health and suicide,» said Pam Smith, AFSP Mississippi Chapter Board Member

One of the best ways to prevent suicide is to connect individuals at risk with a mental health professional for assessment and treatment; individuals at risk for suicide must be able to access and afford mental health care. «Parity» means that insurance coverage for mental health and substance use care should be no more restrictive than coverage for other medical conditions. Despite existing parity protections in both federal and state law, Mississippi residents with mental health and substance use conditions are still facing significant barriers in accessing mental health care and coverage. Over 60% of adults with mental illness in the state do not receive treatment, ranking Mississippi 44th in the nation.  AFSP advocates will be urging lawmakers to introduce legislation to improve parity protections, oversight, and reporting across the state. 

The AFSP Mississippi State Capitol Day is a special day for all who have a connection with or a personal story around the topic of suicide. Volunteers will meet with their state legislators and share their stories about why they participate in this advocacy effort; giving a human face to this important health problem. Attendees hope that by sharing their stories, it will help the legislators understand the need for suicide prevention and mental health legislation.  

AFSP Mississippi Chapter advocates are part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting over 40 state capitols across the United States in 2019 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators and their staff. To learn more about AFSP’s advocacy efforts, visit here: https://afsp.org/our-work/advocacy/.

One American dies by suicide every 11.69 minutes and 90% of those who die by suicide had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death.  Through advocacy, AFSP volunteers will urge state lawmakers to be the voice for the thousands of Mississippi residents affected by suicide each year.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through 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, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states 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, and YouTube.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Logo (PRNewsfoto/AFSP)

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SOURCE American Foundation for Suicide Prevention