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Stealth partnership encourages suicide prevention dialogue

02/06/2013, 12:45pm PST
By Mike McQuaid

EVERETT, Wash. -- Look around.  Sitting next to you at the game, in the coffee shop, on the train, is someone that most likely has been touched by a suicide.  It’s not an easy subject to talk about.

Through a partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the Washington Stealth want to bring this topic out of the darkness and encourage sports fans young and old to talk about suicide. 

The goal?  To save a life.

With someone in the U.S. dying by suicide every 14-and-a-half minutes, according to the AFSP, and leaving a friend, co-worker, family member or neighbor to pick up the pieces, the Washington Stealth believe it’s as important as ever to be willing to talk about it. 

“Like many, I’ve lost friends and colleagues due to this preventable tragedy,” said David Takata, President of the Washington Stealth.  “Taking the time to talk about suicide is important.  It can be life saving.”  

Through education, advocacy and outreach programs, AFSP is focused on making progress in the fight to prevent deaths by improving the overall knowledge about suicide and mental illness. 

“It’s important to better understand why suicide occurs, what might protect against suicide and how to more effectively identify and treat people who are suicidal,” said Jo McNeal, Area Director of AFSP, the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide.

“It’s always about asking the next question,” said McNeal, whose focus is on reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.

With over 900 lives lost each year to suicide in Washington state alone, McNeal and the AFSP believes the impact of positive, personal connections – simply talking about suicide, can be real.  Life saving. 

“It’s about sincerely engaging with that person. Reminding them that there are people who care,” said McNeal.

At Saturday’s Stealth home game at Comcast Arena, fans are encourage to learn more about the education, research and advocacy programs of AFSP in the area.  And to take advantage of the group’s work to bring the topic into the open through peer-to-peer survivor outreach programs, bereavement support groups and applied suicide skills prevention training.

“Our ultimate goal is to walk away with a knowledge of suicide prevention and end the stigma that goes along with talking about suicide,” said McNeal.

To learn more, visit www.AFSP.org or visit the AFSP table at the Saturday, Feb. 9 Washington Stealth home game at Comcast Arena.

-- www.StealthLAX.com --

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