NEW YORK, Feb. 5, 2024 /7Newswire — As we enter Black History Month, a period to honor the contributions of Black and African American individuals in the United States, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is rolling out a new educational program supporting mental health equity for Black and African American communities. L.E.T.S. (Listening, Empathy, Trust, Support) Save Lives: An Introduction to Suicide Prevention for Black and African American Communities is a free presentation created by and for Black people, designed to reduce cultural stigma, foster conversations about mental health, and raise awareness of suicide prevention for individuals who identify as Black or African American. The program is available to the public beginning in February in communities nationwide.
Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and Black and African American communities, along with other underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, often face disproportionate inequities in care, support or services for mental health. It’s concerning that suicide is a health issue in the Black community and the rates are trending upward. The U.S. Black population experienced an 18.8% increase in age-adjusted suicide rates during 2018-2021 and a 39.1% increase among Black persons aged 15-29. The age-adjusted suicide rate for Black and African American people was 8.34 deaths per 100,000 people in 2021. This loss of life is tragic and creates suffering for those who lose loved ones to suicide. However, we know through research that suicide can be preventable and, with knowledge and action, lives can be saved. L.E.T.S. Save Lives can help to strengthen equity and accessibility in suicide prevention education.
“L.E.T.S. Save Lives is an effort to help normalize the conversation regarding suicide in the Black and African American community,” said Victor Armstrong, AFSP vice president for health equity and engagement. “It is a reminder that losing hope and social connection is not exclusive to any one race or culture, and neither is creating pathways to restore hope.”
The content of the 90-minute educational presentation is grounded in research and based on the key concepts of Listening, Empathy, Trust, and Support (L.E.T.S.). Participants can strengthen their understanding of mental health and suicide prevention through activity-based learning and take-home resources. The presentation is for individuals 18 years or older who identify as Black or African American and those who want to learn more about how to support suicide prevention efforts for this community.
Topics covered include:
AFSP is committed to ensuring programs are developed by the communities they serve. L.E.T.S. Save Lives was created by an advisory committee of experts in Black and African American mental health and suicide prevention, researchers, clinicians, survivors of suicide loss, and those with lived experience. The visual design was developed in partnership with The House of Joy, a Black and woman-owned cultural marketing agency. Presenters of the program all identify as Black and African American.
“What AFSP, its partners, volunteers, and fellow advocates have accomplished with this pilot launch is a tremendous step in the right direction,” said Keon Lewis, L.E.T.S. Save Lives presenter and AFSP North Carolina volunteer. “I am not only looking forward to the engaging dialogue it will encourage, but I am also excited to see how this presentation will contribute to transformative change in mental health and suicide prevention for our Black communities.”
In support of the February launch, AFSP in partnership with the Omega Psi Phi, the first international fraternal organization founded on the campus of a Historically Black College, is supporting the launch of the program through the efforts of its chapters in North and South Carolina. The chapters will host virtual L.E.T.S. Save Lives presentations and identify Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to host in-person L.E.T.S. Save Lives presentations.
Multi-platform audio powerhouse, Audacy, a longtime partner of AFSP, will also promote L.E.T.S. Save Lives through public service announcements broadcasted in key markets across the country. With its 200 million monthly listeners, Audacy is an industry leader in connecting communities across the country to honest conversations on mental health and suicide prevention resources with a shared goal of achieving health equity.
AFSP will be hosting a livestream event to introduce the program on February 15, 2024, at 3 pm ET titled: “Talking About Suicide Prevention for the Black Community: Introducing the L.E.T.S. Save Lives Program.” To watch live visit https://www.facebook.com/AFSPnational/ or https://www.youtube.com/afspnational.
Presentations of L.E.T.S. Save Lives can be accessed through community-based chapters virtually and in person. To increase accessibility of this training, AFSP chapters are seeking volunteer trainers. To attend a presentation of L.E.T.S. Save Lives or become a trained presenter, contact your local chapter.
To learn more about L.E.T.S. Save Lives please visit afsp.org/letssavelives.
Additionally, AFSP offers culturally competent resources specifically designed for Black and African American individuals, including Soul Shop™ for Black Churches and Resources for Marginalized Communities.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, including those who have experienced a loss. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through public 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, with a public policy office in Washington, DC, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico, 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, YouTube and TikTok.
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SOURCE American Foundation for Suicide Prevention