WASHINGTON, June 11, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On average, one person dies by suicide every 15 hours in the state of Arkansas. To create awareness and honor those working to prevent this tragic loss of life, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention presented volunteer advocate and Little Rock resident Tyler West with the national Sandy Martin Grassroots Award at the annual Allies in Action Awards reception on Sunday, June 11 in Washington, D.C. As a leader in the AFSP Arkansas Chapter, Mr. West was recognized for his leadership in suicide prevention and mental health in helping to get Act 811 passed in Arkansas which mandates that the Arkansas Department of Health establishes and maintains a suicide prevention hotline.
"Tyler West is a passionate AFSP hero working to make the lives of Arkansas citizens better every day. We are proud to present him with this prestigious award which he earned through his hard work and dedication. He is a true lifesaver and grassroots leader in AFSP's mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide," said John Madigan, vice president of public policy for AFSP.
West was nominated for his exemplary advocacy work in the state of Arkansas in support of AFSP's public policy priorities. He led the Arkansas Chapter in an advocacy campaign in support of HB1775, which mandates the establishment and maintenance of an accredited suicide prevention lifeline to operate 24/7 statewide. Tyler worked tirelessly to meet with state legislators to make sure they understood the importance of having hotline calls answered within the state. He spent many days at the Capitol to stay on top of the bill as it moved and to catch up with legislators as they left committee meetings. He gave testimony advocating for the lifeline and answered questions from legislators about the importance of this bill. The bill ultimately was passed and signed into law as Act 811; Tyler's work contributed greatly to the passage of this law.
In addition to his work within the legislature, West utilized social media to increase grassroots support for the bill. He also worked closely with local print and television media to get the story covered, including the Arkansas Democrat Gazette which covered HB1775 on its front page.
Over 200 advocates from AFSP, from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, were present to acknowledge the work of this life saving champion. The advocates were in Washington, D.C. for four days to meet with their members of Congress to encourage them to invest in mental health and suicide prevention. The awards program included volunteers who have lost loved ones to suicide or who have their own lived experience with a suicide attempt, along with mental health professionals, suicide prevention allies, members of Congress and their staff, advocacy groups, and other leaders in the field.
Suicide in Arkansas
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall in Arkansas. For people aged 25-35 in Arkansas, it is the second leading cause of death. For those aged 15-24, it is the third leading cause of death. More than twice as many people die by suicide in Arkansas annually than from homicide.
** Photos of the award being presented available upon request. **
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, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. AFSP celebrates 30 years of service to the suicide prevention movement. 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.
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SOURCE American Foundation for Suicide Prevention