We believe that the only way for the field of suicidology to reduce suicide and build lives worth living for BIPOC is to dismantle systems of oppression.
Statement on Equity and Anti-Racism
The purpose of the American Association of Suicidology is to prevent suicide and better understand its causes, while supporting those who have been affected by it. We seek to build lives worth living. It is critical to embrace a world where Black, Brown and Indigenous lives matter. We can only do this by dismantling systems of racism and oppression that implicitly or explicitly endorse the individual biases and racist systems that marginalize and erase the experiences and contributions of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). These are the same systems that actively destroy the physical and mental wellbeing of BIPOC. We pledge to recognize and address the intersectionality of the impact of suicide and its prevention when we traditionally have not as a field, even though we certainly should have.
We believe that the only way for the field of suicidology to reduce suicide and build lives worth living for BIPOC is to dismantle systems of oppression. Systemic racism not only affects how we understand and provide access to mental health care and crisis support, it frames how suicide and mental health are conceptualized, how resources including funding get allocated, and what questions are deemed worthy of research funding. Furthermore, we pledge to examine AAS’s structure and operation to understand how racist and oppressive systems are embedded in our functioning in order to shift our own organization to have anti-racist perspectives and practices.
As a predominantly and historically white organization, AAS, its board, staff, and leadership understand that we must deepen our commitment and resolve to include the voices and experiences of our BIPOC members. AAS must lead by example when it comes to inclusivity, diversity, and equity and demonstrate to current and future members that this is an organization committed to doing the work to dismantle systemic racism.
The AAS Board, Staff and Leadership pledge to:
- Continue our current work with Dr. Pata Suyemoto and other knowledgeable advisors to create an anti-racist organization
- Diversify the Board of Directors, leadership, staff, and our membership
- Continue to work on Board and leadership development related to anti-racism and equity
- Examine and reevaluate policies and practices at all levels of the organization, including governance, programming, fundraising, communications, recruitment and operations, and member engagement through a lens of anti-racism and equity
- Highlight BIPOC voices and perspectives at the annual conference and throughout organizational activities
- Acknowledge and engage the Indigenous people whose homelands on which we stand and meet as an organization, including returning time and space at the annual conference to Native people as invited speakers, breakout sessions and hosted events
- Create recognition and accountability for the historical harms done to BIPOC by mental health, public health, social work, and other fields central to suicidology
- Listen to and engage with BIPOC to respond to their needs
- Continue to engage with members and the public with live stream events to increase access to activities and to respond to concerns of BIPOC communities in real-time
- Amplify the voices of BIPOC engaged with suicide prevention, intervention and postvention
- Continue to improve our accreditation standards to ensure crisis centers are addressing diversity, inclusivity, and equity
- Develop scholarships (research, conference attendance, etc.) for BIPOC members
- Advocate for funding for research to understand and address the factors that contribute to BIPOC suicide
- Discuss and encourage intervention and prevention research and initiatives specific to the culture and beliefs of BIPOC populations
- Recognize the ways that intersecting marginalized identities may impact BIPOC and to engage them across disciplines, including BIPOC suicide attempt survivors and survivors of loss in all parts of the organization
This is your AAS. The Board, leadership, and staff pledge to remain transparent in our efforts to create real, anti-racist, decolonized outcomes for the organization, our members, and suicide prevention at large.