The Jason Foundation
For more information, please visit the Jason Foundation website: www.jasonfoundation.com
In the summer of 2002, a meeting held at the AFCA office in Waco, Texas launched an idea that would create a dramatic national impact for youth suicide awareness and prevention. This meeting between Clark Flatt, President / CEO of the Jason Foundation, and Grant Teaff, Executive Director of the AFCA, culminated in a plan to promote a "partnership" between the two organizations to the membership of the AFCA. The purpose of this partnership would be the creation of a tremendous team to confront the "Silent Epidemic" of youth suicide.
The proposed partnership was presented to the AFCA Board of Directors at the 2003 Annual Convention and was passed unanimously. Some of the statistics presented to Coach Teaff and the Board caused them to embrace the need for swift and immediate action. The Board realized that the American Football Coaches Association had a unique position to reach many young people to help change some of the staggering statistics. The impact of the "Silent Epidemic" of youth suicide on our nation is alarming. Some of the statistics they learned are:
Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for youth ages 10 – 24.
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for college age youth.
There is an average of over 2700 suicide attempts each day in our nation by youth ages 12 –17.
In the year 2000, over three million youth were at-risk for suicide – over one million young people actually attempted suicide.
Despite these alarming statistics, suicide has been labeled the "Number One Leading Cause of Preventable Death" in our nation by former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. David Satcher. The Jason Foundation philosophy is that education is the foundation for building a successful national prevention program. The membership of the AFCA has a wonderful opportunity to help educate high school, college and professional athletes about the way to prevent the loss of more young people to suicide. They, in-turn, will help educate others.
The Jason Foundation, Inc. (JFI) was founded in October of 1997 in memory of the President / CEO’s youngest son, Jason. Jason fell victim to the tragedy of suicide at the age of sixteen. Soon after the establishment of JFI, Coach Phillip Fulmer of the University of Tennessee became the National Spokesperson. Through Coach Fulmer’s passion and dedication to making a difference, more Southeastern Conference Football Coaches became State Ambassadors for The Jason Foundation, leading the awareness campaigns in their individual states. It is the success of the State Ambassador program that brought JFI to the AFCA, creating a most powerful resource to confront youth suicide awareness across the nation.
The Jason Foundation, Inc. provides educational programs for students, teachers / youth workers, and parents. These programs provide the information, tools and resources needed to help identify at-risk youth and help identify sources for assistance. JFI’s programs are in use in all fifty states and several foreign countries. JFI has established a national network of affiliate offices. The corporate office is located in Hendersonville, TN, just outside of Nashville. In six short years, JFI has become a national leader in youth suicide prevention due in large part to coaches across the nation.
The AFCA’s efforts with JFI are already making a difference. The "State Ambassador" program utilizes coaches as spokespersons for JFI and the AFCA to help bring awareness, not only about the problem of youth suicide, but that this tragedy is preventable in most cases. By making public service announcements for the media or speaking to groups about the problem and prevention of youth suicide, coaches help foster educating the public. With information and knowledge we can begin to find the at-risk youth and reach them before they take an unnecessary desperate action.
In 2001, a survey of over 2300 middle and high school students was given. One question asked was to whom they would go for help if a friend confided that they were thinking of suicide. The answer given most often was a "coach". Because of the trust factor that young people have in their coaches, it is imperative that coaches be educated about how to help.
With the help of the AFCA and JFI’s National Clinical Affiliate, Universal Health Services, Inc., hundreds of thousands of youth, educators and parents will be educated in order to combat the "Silent Epidemic" of youth suicide.
To find out more about The Jason Foundation, our programs and our efforts with the AFCA, please visit our website:www.jasonfoundation.com