Flanagan, Pelkey advocate for families in mental health crisis
The Rev. Bob Flanagan, of Bridgewater, and Sharon Pelkey, of Watertown, recently met with 5th District state Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., and her staff to lobby for the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.
Flanagan and Pelkey explained the importance of effective mental health treatments and the ways they prevent deaths by suicide.
The Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved the measure after their visit June 14, with a vote in the full House perhaps before August.
Flanagan and Pelkey were among four state residents who took part in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Advocacy Forum 2016.
In Connecticut, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control reported 379 state residents ended their lives.
Suicide was the second leading cause of death for young people 15 to 24 in Connecticut during that same year.
Across the country, nine out of 10 people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental health condition, like depression, at the time of their death.
With bills like the one sponsored by U.S. Sen. Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., which is being considered, effective suicide prevention programs may be continued and supported for those in crisis.
They also highlighted the importance of maintaining military personnel, and veteran suicide prevention as a national priority by asking for members of Congress, including Esty, to support the Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act.
As volunteer advocates, Flanagan and Pelkey support and further the work of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention as it raises awareness, funds scientific research, and provides resources and aid to those affected by suicide.
For more information, visit www.afsp.org.