CHEYENNE, WY – Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and it is the eighth leading cause of death in Wyoming. On Thursday, January 17, 2019, advocates from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the largest suicide prevention organization in the United States, will arrive at the state capitol to meet with lawmakers to encourage them to support Mental Health Parity legislation and to make suicide prevention and mental health care a top priority for the year.
“After providing hundreds of people across the state of Wyoming with free suicide prevention training through AFSP over the past several years, it been so encouraging for us to hear that many more people at risk for suicide have begun to ask for help, and lives have been saved. However, we also hear that many who have sought counseling help have not been able to receive it due to insurance restrictions, high out of pocket costs, or a lack of providers. A Mental Health Parity bill would reduce those barriers to care, allowing people at risk for suicide to get the help that they have finally found the courage to ask for,” said Cal Furnish, Co-Chair, Wyoming Chapter Board of Directors.
Individuals at risk for suicide must be able to access and afford mental health care. “Parity” means that insurance coverage for mental health and substance use care should be no more restrictive than coverage for other medical conditions. Wyoming residents with mental health and substance use conditions are still facing significant barriers in accessing mental health care and coverage. In 2018, 42 areas across the state were considered mental health professional shortage areas, equating to 1 mental health provider for every 300 Wyoming residents. AFSP advocates will be urging lawmakers to support Mental Health Parity legislation and prioritize suicide prevention and mental health care for all Wyoming residents.
The AFSP Wyoming State Capitol Day is a special day for all who have a connection with or a personal story around the topic of suicide. Volunteers will meet with their state legislators and share their stories about why they participate in this advocacy effort, giving a human face to this important health problem. Advocates hope that by sharing their stories, they will help legislators understand that mental health is an important part of overall health and wellbeing and should be treated no differently than other types of medical care.
AFSP Wyoming Chapter advocates are part of a larger national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting over 40 state capitols across the United States in 2019 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators and their staff. To learn more about AFSP’s advocacy efforts, visit here: https://afsp.org/our-work/advocacy/.
One American dies by suicide every 11.69 minutes and 90% of those who die by suicide had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death. AFSP volunteers will urge state lawmakers to be the voice for the thousands of Wyoming residents affected by suicide each year.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through 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, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states 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, and YouTube.