To the Editor:
On behalf of the Suicide Prevention Alliance of Northern Virginia (SPAN), I thank you for the Connection’s compassionate and informative editorial printed in observance of Suicide Prevention Week, titled Take One Action to Prevent Suicide.
Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background; it is the third leading cause of death among young people in the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as across the United States. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there is one suicide in the U.S. every 13 minutes; nearly 40,000 people per year die by suicide in the U.S. In Fairfax County, an annual youth survey found that local youth in 10th and 12th grades are at significantly higher risk for depression and suicide ideation than their peers in other parts of the state.
Launched with grant funding from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and in kind contributions from local governments, mental and behavioral health partners from across the region launched SPAN, serving as a new regional resource for information, events and activities relating to suicide awareness and prevention.
The goal of SPAN is to provide an array of resources and support to increase help-seeking, reduce stigma, and prevent suicide. Through sharing information and efforts with stakeholders across the region, creating opportunities to reach out and provide training, awareness campaigns, promoting health and wellness programs to prevent suicide, SPAN members hope to come together to make a meaningful difference.
Stigma around suicide is a major impediment and while we are making progress in building a firm foundation for suicide prevention, there’s still so much more we need to do. Coming together around the concept of suicide prevention is easy but implementing regional efforts and collaboration is challenging. We need to remind our community that suicide prevention is everyone’s business every day.
Be involved. Be engaged. All of us can have a key role in saving lives. Please learn more about SPAN at http://www.suicidepreventionnva.org/.
Chairman, SPAN Committee
Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board member