Tharrington Smith Staff Community Fund Spotlight: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

As a part of the Tharrington Smith Staff Community Fund, an employee-directed giving initiative, each member of the staff has chosen a specific charity or non-profit organization that they believe enables positive change in the lives of others, and the firm has made a charitable donation to their chosen organization. Tharrington Smith staff member Diana Hasegawa-Brown shares an introduction to her chosen charity and why it is important to her.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention organization was created in 1987 by a number of leading experts on suicide with business and community leaders and survivors of suicide. They believed that only a combined effort would make it possible to fund the research necessary for progress in the prevention of suicide. Such an approach has proven successful with heart disease, cancer and diabetes and it was hoped that it would be successful in dealing with depression and suicide.

Many of the original founders were concerned with the alarming rise in youth suicide over the past four decades. During this period, the suicide of young men had tripled; that of young women had doubled. Suicide is now the second major cause of death among high school and college students.

Suicide is even more frequent among older people. The highest rates are found in men over 50. Before AFSP was formed, there was no national not-for-profit organization dedicated to funding the research and education programs necessary to prevent suicide. Over the past 25 years, they have changed that.

AFSP is dear to my heart as I lost both my brother and cousin to suicide. Suicide was previously, and still is in some instances, a very “hush hush” matter. In order to prevent suicide, we would need to bring it into the light and educate everyone on warning signs, help that is available, and also offer support to the survivors of suicide (friends, family and the individual themselves). It is my hope that continued support of organizations like this will significantly increase the awareness of this epidemic and decrease the numbers of suicides in this country.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.

To fully achieve its mission, AFSP engages in the following Five Core Strategies:
– Fund scientific research
– Offer educational programs for professionals
– Educate the public about mood disorders and suicide prevention
– Promote policies and legislation that impact suicide and prevention
– Provide programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and people at risk, and involve them in the work of the Foundation

For more information on the AFSP, visit their website at: www.afsp.org.