The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
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.
AFSP works to find better ways to prevent suicide by funding research to improve interventions, training clinicians in suicide prevention, and advocating for policy that will save lives.
AFSP is committed to creating a culture that’s smart about mental health because too many people at risk for suicide do not seek help. We need to find better ways to reach those who suffer, and encourage schools, workplaces, and communities to make mental health a priority.
AFSP strives to bring hope to those affected by suicide. Whether you’ve lost someone or are struggling with suicidal thinking - you are not alone. AFSP offers people who have been affected by suicide a way out of the darkness, and gives them opportunities to help others.
Our Presenting Sponsor
Tony Cornelius and the Don Cornelius Foundation
A message from Tony Cornelius, Founder
Suicide, like Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, ranks among subjects not spoken nor acknowledged, especially in communities of color. Additionally, all three issues know no boundaries of race, class, age, gender or sexual orientation. As a result, Mental Health care is not easily sought because of the so-called stigmas attached. Many issues, like the sense of shame; denial; not airing dirty laundry to strangers; and feeling like an outsider keeps people from seeking help. Thus people suffer in silence, which will hurt them in their isolation. The impact of the individual who commits suicide sends a ripple of pain throughout their circle of family, friends and the community who knew them. We all ask, “What could we have done to help them?”
The Don Cornelius Foundation was founded and is committed to establishing programs to support those in transition and in need of healing. The Foundation’s dedicated mission is to establish programs for awareness, prevention and support for those contemplating suicide, or survivors who have lost loved ones to suicide.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) - Suicide is a major, preventable public health problem. In 2007, it was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 34,598 deaths. The overall rate was 11.3 suicide deaths per 100,000 people. An estimated 11 attempted suicides occur per every suicide death. Suicidal behavior is complex. Beyond the socio-economic - political environs and other societal pressures which contribute to depression and anxiety, self medication abuse often occurs for those with trauma diseases and access to doctor prescribed drugs. Some risk factors vary with age, gender, or ethnic group and may occur in combination or change over time. Unfortunately, there is no solitary answer or reason for suicide.
We bear witness to a multi-billion dollar business of prescription drugs being advertised in all forms of media accompanied by televised voice-overs and small print warning of side effects which may include liver disease, kidney disease, gastrointestinal issues, sleeplessness, depression, mood swings and lastly suicide. Yet we continue to ask our doctors for answers and/or healing with a pill while the pharmaceutical industry continues to flourish. One component of the awareness and prevention mission of The Don Cornelius Foundation is education. While outreaching to the community-at-large, the Foundation will also interface with the Pharmaceutical and Medical providers for the purpose of increased participation in more effective education on the use of their products and services.
The ranking causes of death for African-Americans by age, suicide is 5th for ages 10-14, 3rd for ages 15-24, 6th for 25-34 and 8th for 25-44, age groups only for sample.
NIMH promotion of National Suicide Prevention Week occurred September 8-14, 2013 without much fanfare and this needs to change. In conjunction and collaboration with other groups, the Don Cornelius Foundation desires to be one voice of that change. Our outreach is intended to guide and influence organizations desirous of working on the mental health needs of their constituency by funding their efforts towards suicide prevention.
It is our desire to work with and support those organizations regionally and nationally to create a network of awareness and prevention. While there is a national 24-hour hotline, as well as professional referral services available, communities of color usually perceive these services as
being inaccessible to their particular needs. The issues of racism, classism, sexism and heterosexism are already being dealt with and at this most vulnerable time, the voice on the other end of the line must understand these issues at the forefront.
Mental Health services in communities of color have long been sought through faith-based counseling, if at all, and often that may have a bias that doesn’t work for everyone. Working to eliminate the issue of internalized oppression can result in the creation of more safe spaces rather than the ineffective or even harmful suggestions for some seeking help.
The National Organization for People of Color Against Suicide (NOPCAS) has been established to promote life-affirming strategies that will help to decrease life-threatening behaviors. It aims to develop prevention, intervention, and support services to the families and communities impacted adversely by the effects of violence, depression, and suicide in an effort to decrease life-threatening behavior. Their website lists links to organizations creating training for professionals and grass-roots community volunteers to be that voice of first response.
The Don Cornelius Foundation hopes to be an advocate for increasing the awareness of these groups, supporting their work and creating tools for national use like the public service video we have available, “The Face of Suicide - Removing the Veil of Shame”. Breaking the cycle of silence and contributing to the increased crisis counselor base are only two elements of the work to be
done. “No More Secrets”, a short film production of Howard University, is a training tool for community groups to stimulate conversation.
Another example is Colorado’s Yellow Ribbon which is dedicated to preventing youth suicide and attempts by Making Suicide Prevention Accessible to Everyone and Removing Barriers to Help by empowering communities and individuals through leadership, awareness, education and by collaborating and partnering with support networks to save lives.
The Don Cornelius Foundation seeks to work with organizations creating a template for a national awareness network. In the tradition of Soul Train’s national impact, hopefully we can create a better awareness of every National Suicide Awareness Week in the future and
contribute to suicide’s decreasing numbers yearly. Our fundraising events are intended to raise money and awareness to support efforts in harmony with our mission statement.
The Don Cornelius Foundation will soon launch its inaugural “People All Over the World” Campaign and we hope that you will visit our website and join us.
President & Founder