Message from the Chief
Executive Officer and
Chair, Board of Directors

As 2022 comes to a close, we reflect on the 35th Anniversary of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. AFSP was founded in 1987 by families affected by suicide loss and researchers eager to learn how we can prevent suicide. Over the years, we expanded our initial focus on research to include investments in education, advocacy and support for those affected by suicide, all while increasing our investment in research.

Alongside AFSP’s progress, society has come a long way since then. In 2022, we commissioned a public opinion poll that confirmed perceptions about mental health and suicide are changing in encouraging ways. We found that most adults in the U.S. feel mental health is as important as physical health, and nine out of 10 believe suicide is a preventable cause of death. We also learned most people would do something to help someone who was struggling. These are positive signs. However, 50% of people feel unsure what to do to help, and over half said finding mental health care was a barrier to getting help. This tells us we have to continue educating the public on how we can all play a role in the fight against suicide, and advocate for accessible and affordable mental health care for all.

We made progress in 2022 in the pursuit of our mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. But we can’t let up. Here are a few highlights from this past year:

  • AFSP’s nationwide network of chapters delivered more than 1,500 programs, including our signature program, Talk Saves Lives™: An Introduction to Suicide Prevention. We also launched new programs for youth; loved ones supporting someone struggling; and in support of our Veterans and the LGBTQ plus, Latinx and Black communities.
  • AFSP increased its research funding by 30%, adding 34 new studies, bringing our current investment in research to $28 million. New this year were eight studies addressing AFSP’s research priority on underrepresented communities.
  • We expanded educational programs in workplaces and increased the use of our Interactive Screening Program (ISP) by colleges and universities, medical schools, law enforcement agencies, the VA, and employee assistance programs. More than 250,000 people have been connected to help since ISP’s inception.
  • Our Seize the Awkward public service campaign, in partnership with the Jed Foundation and Ad Council, reached a milestone of more than 80 million views. The campaign is aimed at empowering teens and young adults to help a friend. 52% of young adults reported having seen at least one of the PSAs, and 67% talked to a friend about what they were going through. New ads were launched this year that focus on youth of color.
  • We met with 250 Congressional offices to urge support of tele-mental health; increased federal funding for suicide prevention research; and resources for 988, the new 3-digit call number for people in emotional distress. AFSP’s state advocacy work also grew, with State Capitol Days held in 50 States. We increased the number of our Volunteer Advocates to a record 40,000, expanding our reach in every state and Congressional district.
  • Partnerships with Aetna/CVS Health, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the American Academy of Pediatrics and others are improving risk identification and delivery of suicide care in healthcare settings, and are crucial to Project 2025, AFSP’s bold initiative to reduce the U.S. suicide rate 20% by 2025.
  • AFSP’s awareness campaigns on social media reached tens of millions through efforts like our We Demand #MoreForMentalHealth campaign during Mental Health Awareness Month. Our partnerships with media and entertainment companies like Audacy and Netflix provided safe and important messages to the public about mental health and suicide prevention.
  • And when suicide occurred, AFSP was there to support surviving families and friends with programs and resources, including International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, which brings together loss survivors for connection, healing and understanding through hundreds of events in the U.S. and around the world. Of special note this year was a national summit for long-term loss survivors.

Most exciting this past year was the adoption of AFSP’s new Strategic Plan, which has five goals, 25 strategies and measurable outcomes that will drive our work over the next three years. Central to our plan is an emphasis on the importance of diversity; the use of data to measure impact; strengthening AFSP’s community-based chapters; and continuing to build partnerships to engage others in our cause.

We know we can’t do our lifesaving work alone. We are grateful to our volunteers, donors, Out of the Darkness Walkers, researchers, advocates, and partner organizations for sharing their passion, lived experience and expertise with us.

AFSP’s founders could not have imagined how far we’ve come over the past 35 years. Back then, mental health was misunderstood, and suicide was hidden in secrecy. Today, mental health and suicide prevention are finally becoming national priorities. We hope you will join with us as we continue to build on what they started, and as we fight for a day when no one dies by suicide.

Robert Gebbia Robert Gebbia signature

Robert Gebbia
Chief Executive Officer

Jim Compton Jim Compton signature

Jim Compton
Chair, Board of Directors