LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News Release) – Suicide is the leading cause of injury related deaths for Arkansans between the ages of 20 and 64 and the second leading cause of death among all other age groups, according to a report released earlier this month by the Arkansas Department of Health.
On Friday, April 22, 2016, at 10:30 A.M. on the steps of the capitol building volunteers from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the largest suicide prevention organization in the United States, will host a press conference, along with Rep. Tim Lemons who will be speaking for the first time about how suicide has directly affected him.
The press conference backdrop will include 515 pairs of shoes placed on the capitol building steps, representing the number of lives lost to suicide in Arkansas in 2014 (the most current release of suicide data from the CDC). there will also be 23 pairs of combat boots representing the veterans who die by suicide every day.
This public health crisis is critically important for everyone who lives in the state as laid out by the “Suicide Statistics Among Arkansans from 2009 to 2014” report released in early April 2016 by the Arkansas Department of Health.
While the report found that suicide is the leading cause of death in the state, we know that suicide is preventable.
Last year, the state had a surplus of almost $200 million dollars. Advocates from AFSP’s Arkansas Chapter shared their ideas for using some of that money for suicide prevention and mental health screening programs on college campuses at a luncheon held for legislators earlier this week on April 20.
The advocates are part of a larger national contingent of AFSP volunteers who will be visiting various state capitols across the United States in spring 2016 to bring best practices in mental health and suicide prevention to state legislators and their staff. This is the second year advocates visited Little Rock.