A Message from the Chief Executive Officer and Chair, National Board of Directors
The past year has been pivotal in the fight to prevent suicide. It was a year defined by increased actions to prevent suicide and new initiatives to talk openly and safely about suicide — to do more to Talk Away the Dark.
In 2023, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reached more people than ever before with its prevention and loss support programs through the work of AFSP’s 74 community-based chapters. As the largest private funder of suicide prevention research, we increased our investment in science by 12% to reach a record $32 million in current studies. We expanded the number of volunteers advocating for prevention policies and legislation by 15% to over 52,000 advocates. This resulted in having over 50 bills supported by AFSP signed into law and renewed federal funding for crisis services, including for 988 — The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
We didn’t stop there. In 2023 we made progress toward our goal of educating the public on how to help someone who is struggling with their mental health. Leading this work was the launch of AFSP’s public service campaign, Talk Away the Dark, which features an adult daughter helping her struggling father. The campaign sends a powerful message that talking about suicide is the first step to getting someone help.
AFSP’s work is needed more than ever, as suicide is on the increase in the U.S., with over 49,000 people lost annually to suicide. This tragic loss of life is a call to action to implement bold new strategies and to develop the public and private support needed to address the problem of suicide in our country.
The report that follows shares how AFSP is working to reverse this increase and how we are delivering programs to support high-risk populations, including Veterans, people in rural communities, LGBTQ youth, and people from underserved and minoritized populations.
All of our work is aligned with AFSP’s Strategic Plan, which calls for using data to measure impact; focusing on diversity; and building partnerships to engage others in our cause. Each of these efforts requires funding, and last year we had strong revenue growth, allowing AFSP to increase its investment in our mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.
At AFSP, we believe the current increase in suicide can be reversed, and we are hopeful – because there is growing understanding that mental health is as important as physical health. Advances in science are showing how suicide can be prevented, and more people than ever before are getting involved in suicide prevention — in schools, workplaces, healthcare systems, communities and more.
We know we can’t do our lifesaving work alone. We are grateful to our volunteers, donors, Out of the Darkness Walkers, researchers, advocates, and partner companies and organizations for sharing their passion, lived experience and expertise with us.
Let’s work together in 2024 towards a day when no one dies by suicide.