La. suicide prevention advocates to meet with state lawmakers

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Information provided by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and it is the eleventh leading cause of death in Louisiana. On Tuesday, April 16, 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 and urge them to support the Louisiana Suicide Prevention Act (HB 148).

"After losing my son to suicide in 2004 I felt that I needed become involved and advocate to prevent suicides. In 2006, with the help of my daughter and other volunteers, we brought the first Out of the Darkness Walk to Louisiana, and in 2014, we formed the Louisiana Chapter of AFSP. Today we have expanded to giving safeTALK training and presentations across the state and each year we come together for the State Capitol Day to urge legislators to improve access to mental health care and prevent others from taking their life," said Cynthia Elmer, AFSP Louisiana Chapter Chair.

HB 148 provides for implementation of the zero suicide initiative and development of a state suicide prevention plan. Led by the Office of Behavioral Health the Zero Suicide Initiative would incorporate leadership development; healthcare provider training; identification of suicide risk factors; and patient engagement and treatment.  The bill also calls for the development and implementation of a State Suicide Prevention Plan to improve training, identification, prevention, and intervention as they release to suicide and mental health.

AFSP Louisiana advocates are part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting nearly 40 state capitols across the United States in 2018 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators and their staff. To learn more about AFSP's advocacy efforts, visit HERE.

On average one person dies by suicide every thirteen hours in Louisiana. Among residents ages 10-14 suicide ranks as the second leading cause of death and ranks third amongst those age 15-34.  In 2016 we lost 677 individuals to suicide in Louisiana.

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.

For more information, contact Louisiana Chapter Chair Cynthia Elmer at 337-380-7735.