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Rural Health Information Hub

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

  • Project Title: Research, Education, Advocacy, and Support in Suicide Prevention
  • Program Representative Interviewed: Cassandra Linkenmeyer, Minnesota Area Director
  • Location: National
  • Program Overview: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is a voluntary organization dedicated to suicide prevention. AFSP funds research, educates the public about mental health and suicide prevention, engages in advocacy for mental health and suicide prevention policies, and supports those affected by suicide loss. One major fundraising activity conducted by AFSP across all 50 states is the Out of the Darkness Community Walk. Many community walks are held in rural areas, and any community interested in participating can reach out to their state chapter of AFSP to organize a walk. AFSP will provide planning and marketing materials, as well as a toolkit, framework, and manual to assist with development and implementation of the walk.

    The community walks, which first started in the early 2000s, have several purposes. They serve as a fundraising mechanism for suicide prevention programs and also are a way to develop community connections and raise public awareness about suicide. Community walks are typically held in the fall and walks on college and high school campuses are typically held on the spring.

    In addition to the Out of the Darkness Community Walks, ASFP has several other programs and resources available to rural communities free of charge to support suicide prevention efforts. These include education, training, resources, and support in prevention, intervention, and postvention. Presentations and trainings are available for schools, colleges, and other community-based settings on topics including suicide prevention for specific populations (such as college students, older adults, individuals who identify as LGBTQI+) and firearm safety. In addition, AFSP engages in advocacy and funds research around best practices for suicide prevention in rural as well as urban communities. Rural community members interested in implementing an Out of the Darkness Community Walk or any other AFSP program can contact their state chapter director to access resources free of charge.

Models represented by this program: