Inspiring Systems-Level Change to Drive Real Results
Building on AFSP’s program efforts to educate and raise understanding of how we can all, as individuals, play a role in preventing suicide, AFSP is driving momentum by partnering with large systems to effect practical, widespread systemic change.
At the core of AFSP’s three-year strategic plan is the Bold Goal to catalyze a reduction in the suicide rate 20% by 2025 through healthcare, emergency medicine, corrections systems, and firearms suicide prevention — the critical areas through which it was determined we could make the most impact.
Dependent on key changes within large systems, AFSP uses this Bold Goal as a clarion call to inspire momentum through strategic partnerships, and through the support of over 90 volunteer Champions within our nationwide network of local chapters. AFSP continues to move forward, making clear strides in our work toward achieving this goal in the following areas.
Each year, around 25,000 people are lost to suicide by firearm. The statistics are clear: Just over half of all suicides in the U.S. are by firearm, and 54% of all firearm deaths are suicides.
To help stem the tide, we’ve partnered with the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for America's firearms industry, to deliver suicide prevention education to thousands of firearms retailers, shooting ranges, and gun owners nationwide.
Additionally, Talk Saves Lives: Firearms and Suicide Prevention, a presentation developed by AFSP specifically for the firearms community, is delivered at events held at firearms clubs, retailers and associations, and firearms safety classes.
Suicide is the leading cause of death in correctional systems. Incarcerated people are particularly vulnerable to suicide. Corrections staff are also at risk. Concerningly, the suicide rate within the corrections environment has increased 30% in recent years.
Talk Saves Lives: An Introduction to Suicide Prevention in the Correctional Environment shows those working in the correctional environment how to care for people in custody, while also attending to their own wellbeing. The program is beginning to reach corrections staff across the country.
Health Care Systems and Emergency Departments
Nearly half of people who die by suicide visit their primary care physician in the month prior to their death. Large health care systems spanning both primary and behavioral care are a critical setting where coordinated suicide prevention strategies can have a dramatic impact.
As part of our strategy to engage the health care system in suicide prevention, AFSP partnered with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) to form the IHI-AFSP Suicide Prevention Prototyping Learning and Action Network, with the aim of reducing the rate of suicide for adults within three health care systems across 24 states, predominantly focused on primary care and emergency department settings.
AFSP has also partnered with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), an innovative telementoring model that engages pediatric clinicians and others in a multi-month learning collaborative for suicide prevention education mentoring and support. One program engages pediatric health care providers around suicide prevention strategies outlined in the Blueprint for Youth Suicide Prevention, while another builds strategic partnerships between AFSP chapters and AAP chapters to engage in local and state-level system changes.