Welcome. We are the Central Pennsylvania chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The grassroots work we do focuses on eliminating the loss of life from suicide by: delivering innovative prevention programs, educating the public about risk factors and warning signs, raising funds for suicide research and programs, and reaching out to those individuals who have lost someone to suicide.
As a part of AFSP’s growing nationwide network of chapters, we bring together people from all backgrounds who want to prevent suicide in our communities. Families and friends who have lost someone to suicide, vulnerable individuals, mental health professionals, clergy, educators, students, community/business leaders, and many others energize our chapter.
Our chapter was chartered in February 2012, becoming the 53rd chapter of AFSP and the 5th in Pennsylvania.
The Central PA Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention…
- Holds 'Out of the Darkness' Walks, which began in 2007, raising over $65,000.
- Facilitates the International Survivor’s of Suicide (ISOS) Day each November on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. These events have been facilitated by Evelyn Wald, Grief and Loss Counselor, and herself a survivor, and include watching the National Broadcast, an opening and closing ceremony, the creation of memorial tree ornaments, and the display of the squares of our Lifekeepers Memory Quilt.
- Holds Survivors of Suicide Support Groups.
- Organizes a Lifekeeper Memory Quilt—a collaborative tribute created by survivors of suicide loss displayed at local and national events in order to put a human face on the tragedy of suicide and the devastating toll it has taken on our families and communities. If you would like more information about how to submit a quilt square, please contact Valerie at (814) 349-5943.
- Creates a tree for the Festival of Trees on the campus of Penn State University since 2009. These trees feature Out of the Darkness bracelets and t-shirts, as well as ornaments made by survivors. The Festival of Trees takes place over a four-day span in December and hosts hundreds of visitors.
- Created Toward Daylight with PSU students, a film including a cross-section of Centre County residents that have had some connection to depression and/or suicide and how they found the light at the end of the tunnel. The film has been viewed through Centre County and received three national awards for documentary short films, including being recognized by the SAMHSA VOICE Awards (2011).
- Donated books on suicide and survivorship to each of Centre County’s public libraries.
- Hosted Dr. Philip Rodgers, Evaluation Specialist with AFSP in Philadelphia. His first presentation was on the topic of "Screening for Suicide Risk.' The participants were educated on major risks and protective factors for suicide, findings regarding screening for suicide risk, and screening protocols and materials. Dr. Rodger’s presented later on the topic of "Applying Best Practices in the Identification, Treatment and Management of Individuals at Risk for Suicide." Individuals attending the seminar learned about major risk and protective factors for suicide, conducting suicide risk assessments, collaboratively creating safety plans and identifying and using evidence-based approaches.
- Held a Ministerial Breakfast in 2008 to inform local clergy members of suicide in our community and prevention/outreach available.
- Helped at a local training for State College High School teachers in 2009 on the topic of adolescent suicide. This training utilized local and regional experts and resources and prepared attendees to identify students at risk and assist in knowing how to intervene in an appropriate and timely manner.
- Held a training "Suicide in Centre County: How You Can Help make a Difference," in March of 2008. Over 100 professionals and community members attended this all day training. The audience included representatives from Children and Youth Services, MH/MR, high schools, home nursing agencies, Penn State University, local mental health providers, churches, and police departments. Presenters included Dr. William Hylbert, former Psychiatrist from Mt. Nittany Medical Center; Dr. Amy Wenzel, Psychiatrist from the University of Pennsylvania; Reverend Howard Woodruff from AFSP; Pat Gainey from AFSP; and a panel including representatives from the local Crisis Hotline, State College Police Department, local schools and local health care providers.
- Provided 'Survivor Baskets' to over 30 individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide. These baskets include supportive items such as AFSP information, tea, journals, books on suicide loss, and other helpful and comforting items.