Did you know that close to 46,000 Americans died by suicide in 2020, and in the state of Georgia alone, more than 1,500 lives were lost due to suicide in 2019.
(Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
Here in Roswell and across the United States, The SAM Foundation’s mission is to prevent suicide through public awareness and education. It is a nonprofit that promotes mental health awareness and provides suicide prevention training programs at no cost to participants. Ultimately, the foundation hopes to change the way our communities view mental health and serve as a resource to those who have been affected by suicide.
Roswell resident, Julie Smith, her sister, Nicole Goggans, and their mother, Vicki Prewett, created The SAM Foundation four years ago in memory of their brother and son, Sam Johnson. Sam died by suicide on December 17, 2002. While the foundation is named for Sam, it also is an acronym that reflects its mission: Suicide Awareness Means...Hope.
How The SAM Foundation is Making a Difference
The foundation is providing life-saving programs to people all over the United States. In the Roswell area alone, the foundation is working with school counselors and teachers, corporate groups and other members of our community, and it provides higher-level training and certification programs to first responders and mental health professionals. All programs are free of charge, and the foundation partners with and supports other like-minded organizations across the country.
Since its start, The SAM Foundation has trained more than 6,000 individuals in suicide prevention. At the beginning of one school year alone, a group of counselors from one Alabama county that were trained by The SAM Foundation successfully intervened in the lives of 18 students who were having thoughts of suicide and were able to get them help.
How You Can Help
The SAM Foundation welcomes volunteers of all kinds – to help behind the scenes, for special events and fundraisers, during training classes, or by creating a fundraiser of their own. Individuals can register for a training class, share information about the foundation with others, sign up for the e-newsletter (www.SAMfound.org), connect on social media (Instagram: @TheSAMFound or Facebook: @TheSAMFound), or support its programs through a donation (as a 501(c)(3), all donations are tax deductible).
"Suicide prevention training is vital to our communities because you never know when someone is in need," said Smith. "I wish that I had had the training that we are now providing in order to know what questions I could have asked Sam and what steps I could have tried to persuade him to get help. He might still be here with us."