AFSP, Aetna launch new program to potentially save thousands of lives

As part of National Suicide Prevention Week, Aetna, one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, donated $50,000 to the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

american foundation for suicide preventionThis donation will be earmarked for Aetna to use AFSP’s many research-based education programs for their members nationwide. Aetna is proud to join AFSP in its goal to reduce the suicide rate 20 percent by the year 2025, as part of AFSP’s Project 2025 initiative.

“Suicide is a public health crisis that must be tackled head on,” said Louise Murphy, Head of Aetna Behavioral Health. “We are strongly committed to combating stigma and raising awareness for important mental health issues, and are proud to partner with AFSP in their effort to reduce the suicide rate through Project 2025. Mental illness is a risk factor for suicide, but having a mental health condition does not mean one will die by suicide. We know from the research that, just as with a physical illness such as a heart condition, there are ways we can promote and improve mental well-being. Access to appropriate and timely care is important.  By making these treatments available, and sharing AFSP’s well-developed education programs, Aetna will continue to strive to offer the best possible solutions to our members.”

Aetna is AFSP’s first partner in the Large Healthcare Systems area of Project 2025. Launched in October 2015, Project 2025 is a high-impact, collaborative initiative developed by AFSP, aimed at achieving the organization’s bold goal of reducing the annual suicide rate 20 percent by 2025. Using a dynamic systems model approach based on what the evidence tells us about suicide, AFSP has determined a series of actions and critical areas to help reach the goal. So far, there are interventions needed in four critical areas including: (1) Firearms, (2) Emergency Departments (3) Large Healthcare Systems and (4) Corrections Settings – cumulatively, we can expect to save nearly 20,000 lives through 2025. If we do a better job of identifying people who are at risk in Large Healthcare Systems, provide them with a short-term intervention and include better follow-up care, we can expect an estimated 9,200 lives saved through 2025.

“I’m pleased that Aetna is working with us to educate local communities about mental health and suicide prevention,” said Robert Gebbia, AFSP CEO. “We knew when we launched Project 2025 that it would take this kind of investment to meet our bold goal of reducing the suicide rate 20 percent by the year 2025. We did not know, however, who would join us to help meet the goal.  It’s through partnerships like this one with Aetna, that we are going to meet the goal.”

AFSP offers many education programs to help members of the community know how to recognize the signs of suicide and what to do if they are worried about someone. One such education program that can be brought to Aetna’s members includes Talk Saves Lives: An Introduction to Suicide Prevention™, a community-based presentation that provides an overview and understanding of mental health and suicide, and the benefits of connecting with those who may be struggling. There are also other AFSP programs that are being considered for workplaces, community agencies and college campuses, for example.

Both Aetna and AFSP are partners in The Campaign to Change Direction, a collection of concerned citizens, nonprofit leaders, and leaders from the private sector who have come together to change the culture in America about mental health, mental illness, and wellness.

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