How the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the AFSP is Changing Lives Through Suicide Prevention

Like ocean waves, life comes with natural ups and downs. Sometimes we’re surfing along the water, and other times we’re pulled into a riptide. While it takes hard work to bring yourself out of a dark place, it’s always worth it for that breath of fresh air once you’re free. A heartbreaking reality is that lots of individuals stuck in a dark place don’t make it through, and die by suicide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Tens of thousands of Americans die by suicide each year, not to mention the 1+ million people that attempt it.

While suicide is an immensely difficult topic to talk about, it’s important to do so. One of the organizations spearheading this effort is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). They’re the leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide in a variety of ways. AFSP funds scientific research, educates the public about mental health and suicide prevention, advocates for proactive and beneficial public policies, and supports survivors of suicide loss and those affected by suicide.

The Greater Los Angeles and Central Coast chapter of the AFSP, founded in 2020, is one of the newest chapters to take a stand against this avoidable tragedy. Previously, mental health and suicide weren’t commonly discussed even though they’re part of the human experience. For years there was an insurmountable stigma surrounding the topic, so individuals suffered in silence.

This is something that the AFSP is trying to eliminate. With noble efforts and honest conversations, the stigma has lessened in recent years. The conversation has been opened up, and people around the world are sharing their stories. While there is still a lot of work to be done, society is moving forward in being honest about these experiences. This has empowered people around the country who have been touched by this tragedy in numerous ways.

One of the most significant ways the AFSP Greater Los Angeles and Central Coast chapter furthers this mission is through various events, the most popular of which are Out of the Darkness Community Walks. According to AFSP, Out of the Darkness Walks “give people the courage to open up about their own struggle or loss, and the platform to change our culture’s approach to mental health.” While participants walk through parks, roads, and the community at large, they are also walking towards a brighter tomorrow. These community walks demonstrate that no one is alone in their struggle, that there is a supportive community around them that can sympathize with their situation.

One of the main things that people need to hear when they are in the depths of depression is that they are not alone. AFSP This nationwide nonprofit brings them out of the darkness, giving them the opportunity to heal and thus help others.

Each of the Greater Los Angeles and Central Coast Chapter’s public events brings together people who have been impacted by suicide in various ways. Whether they’ve lost a loved one or attempted it themselves, all are welcome to immerse themselves in this welcoming community. They believe that now, more than ever, it’s important to be there for one another and take steps to safeguard our mental health and prevent suicide. By reaching out for help and supporting grassroots organizations like the AFSP, the tide can be changed and bring more people out of the storm and back to shore.

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