As an organization dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, one of our core values is well-being. We lead by example in practicing self-care and supporting healthy behaviors for ourselves and one another. In the spirit of this value, and in light of the recent State of Emergency in Indiana issued by Governor Holcomb related to the COVID-19 virus, we are hereby cancelling all public American Foundation for Suicide Prevention events in Indiana taking place at least through April 30, 2020. This includes all group meetings, safeTALK, ASIST, Talk Saves Lives, More Than Sad, It’s Real, other educational programs, and third-party fundraising events.
We are working with our campus partners and National office to hopefully transition our Out of the Darkness Campus Walks at Butler University, Purdue University, University of Indianapolis, Ball State University, and Wabash College to virtual events. We will evaluate the Plymouth and Cass County Walks after the March and April Campus Walks are addressed. We encourage you to keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for more details and updates about staying involved with these events.
As the Board of Directors, we do not make this decision lightly. Our mission depends on delivering quality programs, engaging community members, and offering a community of hope for those affected by suicide. Our mission also depends on well-being and we feel we have an ethical responsibility to ensure the health and safety of all of our advocates, volunteers, and community members.
Despite this decision, we encourage all AFSP volunteers to continue their fundraising efforts for our Out of the Darkness Campus Walks and engage in virtual communication and outreach to spread AFSP’s message and resources. The funds raised at these events help support education, research, advocacy, and support resources and events throughout the year.
In addition, we recognize that in this time of uncertainty, our mental health can suffer. As our own Dr. Doreen Marshall writes, “It’s important to note that we are not helpless in light of current news events. We can always choose our response. If you are struggling, here are some things you can do to take care of your mental health in the face of uncertainty:
1. Separate what is in your control from what is not. There are things you can do, and it’s helpful to focus on those. Wash your hands. Remind others to wash theirs. Take your vitamins. Limit your consumption of news (Do you really need to know what is happening on a cruise ship you aren’t on?).
2. Do what helps you feel a sense of safety. This will be different for everyone, and it’s important not to compare yourself to others. It’s ok if you’ve decided what makes you feel safe is to limit attendance of large social events, but make sure you separate when you are isolating based on potential for sickness versus isolating because it’s part of depression.
3. Get outside in nature–even if you are avoiding crowds. I took a walk yesterday afternoon in my neighborhood. The sun was shining, we got our dose of vitamin D, and it felt good to both get some fresh air and quality time together. Exercise also helps both your physical and mental health.
4. Challenge yourself to stay in the present. Perhaps your worry is compounding—you are not only thinking about what is currently happening, but also projecting into the future. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Notice the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensory experiences in your immediate moment and name them. Engaging in mindfulness activities is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control.
5. Stay connected and reach out if you need more support. Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly anxious or if you are struggling with your mental health, it’s ok to reach out to a mental health professional for support. You don’t have to be alone with your worry and it can be comforting to share what you are experiencing with those trained to help.
As always, thank you for all you do to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide in your communities. We look forward to continuing to engage you in our fight to #StopSuicide.

Warmly,
Mike Shade
Treasurer, Board of Directors
AFSP Indiana Chapter
Kelsey Steuer
Area Director
AFSP Indiana Chapter