Updated: Jul 29, 2022
We are so excited to showcase our first signing partner, The San Diego Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Going beyond education and awareness, AFSP is actively working to assist those in crisis and lower the American suicide rates. Their mission, values, and efforts inspire live-saving change. Let’s cast some light on this incredible organization:
What’s Their Mission?
It’s all in the name: Suicide Prevention, Saving Lives. This takes countless forms. Educational programs, informational distribution, scientific research, advocacy, and ongoing support all work together to help those in need. In addition to the effort of prevention, their message of hope and healing extends to include those affected by suicide loss. Grief can be a powerful bonding force, able to bring people together during impossibly hard times. AFSP finds the light in the dark, the hope and human connectivity in strife.
Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States. It was previously the 10th. It is preventable. Felicity Vera, the San Diego Area Director took the time to chat with us and share her experience with the AFSP and share with us greater insight into some of its ongoing projects and successes.
“The suicide rate has started to decline; we must continue to make mental health a national priority – and advocate for more investment in suicide research and nationwide prevention efforts.”
In 2015, Project 2025 was created with the goal of reducing the annual rate of suicide in the U.S. by 20% in the following 10 years. This bold initiative takes a look at the country’s mental health resources, its relationship with firearms and suicide, and asks: How can we foster change and save lives.
“American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has determined the programs, policies and interventions that will prevent as many suicides as possible.”
With the goal of education, advocacy, and direct crisis assistance, the programs in place offer a wide variety of resources that anyone can take part in. It’s easy to feel helpless or alone when up against these struggles; this foundation was built on quelling those fears and bringing people together.
Who is AFSP?
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is so much more than their mission statement. It is made up of hard working members and volunteers from all walks of life, joining hands in creating hope for those affected by suicide. Many have personal connections to this sort of loss, all want to see the numbers decrease. Healthcare professionals, researchers, lobbyists, organizers, writers, artists, and more make up the team fighting for suicide prevention.
It is the largest private suicide prevention organization in the United States, with chapters in all 50 states and programs and events nationwide. The AFSP is also the largest private funder for suicide related research. This research assists in answering some of the biggest questions related to suicide and its prevention.
Founded in 1987, the AFSP was created by a small group of families who had all lost someone to suicide. Leading up to this time, suicide rates had been on the incline, establishing a need for assistance and care nation-wide. These original founding members connected with scientists and people in their community who also wanted to spread hope.
“Before AFSP, there was no national-scope not-for-profit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy.”
In a crisis situation, there is a strange human phenomenon where we will assume that someone else has it handled. Someone else probably already called 911. There’s nothing I can do to help. Getting past this internal hurdle and jumping into action is at the heart of making these changes. Someone needed to step up and help.
The San Diego Chapter
With a full Events Calendar and tons of different ways to be involved, the local San Diego Chapter of AFSP is incredibly active. One of their biggest events is the Out of the Darkness Fundraiser Walk. Rallying funds and spreading awareness, this walk brings together people with different connections to the cause. These walks spotlight the support found in your community.
The Talk Saves Lives Event is an introduction to suicide prevention. In this program, participants can learn the early warning signs associated with suicide and how to act to support those who may be showing those signs. These conversations open the door to deeper discussion and change on an individual scale. It’s lighting that spark.
More than Sad is an experience tailored to students, teaching them about mental health and personal advocacy. Not only are there educational films for students and their parents, but entire learning programs for teachers to help them recognize warning signs in their students. These tools work to prevent teen suicide while emboldening peers to care for each other.
The San Diego Chapter of the AFSP became Giftiply’s first partner. It is a perfect match to foster support, garner awareness, and channel donations their way. Suicide prevention starts with a spark and can glow into a world of healing. Our messages align: Giving of time, attention, and effort can change a life; can change the world.
We have created a beautiful wrapping paper print for this partnership. Snowflakes of Love is a colorful, festive celebration of individuality and togetherness. Although our individual experiences have uniquely shaped us, we are not alone in our journey through life. This design was created by artist Jess Goldsmith who has a personal connection to the AFSP.
"It's been extremely fulfilling for me to have worked on creative projects with AFSP. When illustrating my pieces for AFSP, my goal was to find a way to bring fun and creativity to a subject that can feel really scary. My wrapping paper design for Giftiply, 'Words of Affirmation' speaks to anyone who may be struggling with mental health and those with loved ones that are struggling- looking for ways to initiate life-saving conversations." -Jess Goldsmith
How You Can Help
Taking the time and effort to be observant, to be supportive for someone who needs a friend, and to assist in offering professional resources could help save a life. Here are 5 things you can do to help prevent suicide:
1. Watch for Warning Signs - Pay attention to those in your circle. Conversation about suicide isn’t always clear, be attentive to changes in your friends or loved ones. It’s not always as obvious as someone voicing a desire to die. Feeling like a burden, self isolating, and a sudden, negative change of outlook can all raise red flags.
2. Listen Without Judgement - Fear is blindingly powerful, especially to someone at risk of suicide. Many can be understandably afraid or intimidated when it comes to discussing thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Taking time to listen without judging or even providing a great deal of commentary, can be incredibly helpful.
3. Guide Toward Professional Care - There’s only so much a non-professional can do. It’s important to take care of yourself as you attempt to care for others. Trained professionals are well equipped to assist those in need and can provide the optimal care. Doing a little bit of simple research for a friend or loved one can move mountains.
4. Normalizing the Conversation - Make it known to those in your circle that you are a safe person to talk to about mental health issues. Normalizing conversations about therapy, medication, and even suicidal thoughts can help to make someone feel safer about reaching out when in need.
5. Be the One - Assume that you are the only one who can help. Unless direct action is being taken, it’s easy to assume that someone else is stepping up, that the problem will be handled. If everyone thinks that way, no one will reach out to help. If you’re unsure, just ask. Communication can help save a life.
Thank you so much for taking the time to learn more about our first partner, AFSP. Check out their Giftiply wrapping paper and how you can begin a campaign with us to help raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: San Diego Chapter.