In 1987, a small group of caring individuals had a vision: to establish a private source of support for suicide research and education, so that essential suicide prevention efforts could be sustained into the future. These founding families—each of whom had lost someone to suicide—joined with scientists to create what today is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, or AFSP.
Since its founding in 1987, AFSP has:
- Mobilized and connected tens of thousands of people who have lost a family member, loved one, or friend to suicide
- Reached thousands of individuals who are at risk for suicide, as well as those who love and care for them
- Attracted the participation of members of the scientific and clinical communities, who conduct groundbreaking research on suicide and its prevention with support from AFSP
- Established local chapters in all 50 states
- Educated hundreds of local communities about suicide and how to prevent it
- Created a public policy and lobbying arm by merging successfully with an existing national policy organization, thus enabling AFSP to press for legislation and policies at the federal, state and local levels that advance the goal of preventing suicide
- Substantially increased our funding from individual donors, including the thousands of highly motivated individuals who participate in our Out of the Darkness Walks
- Educated reporters and the media about how to best cover suicide
- Communicated with hundreds of thousands of individuals through our website, social media, brochures, speakers and efforts to generate press coverage
More about the Indiana Chapter
What started as a singular Out of the Darkness Walk in Indianapolis in 2007 has grown into a thriving and active Chapter of AFSP over the last 13 years thanks to our amazing volunteers. The Indiana Chapter truly has the most wonderful humans pouring their heart into the important work of making our Hoosier communities smart about mental health! We have on average 12-14 Community Out of the Darkness Walks in the Fall and 5-8 Campus Out of the Darkness Walks in the Spring with programs, events, trainings threading the space in between. Our Hoosier volunteers embody and put into action AFSP’s mission to Save Lives and Bring Hope to Those Affected by Suicide.
Each Chapter of AFSP has something special and unique. In addition to our outstanding volunteers, we also are currently the only state that has an AFSP license plate. $25 from each plate sale comes directly back to AFSP Indiana supporting our grassroots efforts to bring education and trainings to our communities, help shape local and federal legislation, increase awareness, fund scientific research, and provides resources and aid to those impacted by suicide. Our Indianapolis Walk is historically in the top 10 for Fall Community Out of the Darkness Walks, and this past year was 4th in the country out of 400+ walks. Our Butler University Walk is historically in the top 5 for Spring Campus Out of the Darkness Walks.
When we aren’t hosting walks, we’re at community events, hosting prevention programs and trainings, connecting with loss survivors, and sharing strength and hope.
Talking to those who have lost a loved one to suicide presents challenges beyond the discomfort we commonly feel in the presence of grief. Despite our best intentions, our eagerness to comfort someone or to fill a long silence may unwittingly cause us to say hurtful things. Similarly, the fear of compounding the loss survivor’s pain by saying the wrong thing may cause us to self-edit in unhelpful ways or lead to our avoiding those who are grieving altogether. You can find ways to have an honest conversation with a loss survivor and help provide resources.
Though there’s much we’re learning through research about why people take their lives, there is still so much yet to be done. Our volunteers truly are the heartbeat of our organization and we could not do this important work without them. With the help of volunteers and supporters, we can take action against this leading cause of death and create a culture that’s smart about mental health.
Thank you Kelsey for sharing a brief overview of AFSP. This organization is super close to my heart, and I am honored to have been able to work with them over the years!