Advocacy - Creating Political Will
Creating political will is simple. All you have to do is voice your beliefs to people of influence. Even if you aren’t a public speaker, you can change the minds of others. When you voice your beliefs with passion, you persuade. Legislators are people just like us, with lives and families and interests like yours. They are doing a job for us, representing us, and so they need to know what we think and how we feel. Only we can tell them how their actions in the legislature can make a difference in real people’s lives in our communities throughout Georgia.
1. Creating Relationships all year long so they are in place when you need them!
Becoming a Georgia Community Action Team member is partially about advocating at the Capitol, but it is also simply about making connections and sharing ideas!
You can start or join a local suicide prevention coalition. Bring your voice to a larger group interested in creating action.
Make relationships with your local and state legislator, educate them about the crisis of suicide and the needs of their constituents.
Connect with media to share materials on responsible reporting of suicides and develop relationships to access for media exposure as needed.
Distribute suicide prevention and survivor support materials to area churches, funeral homes, police and first responders, hospitals, physicians, nursing and assisted living homes, schools, colleges and other identified groups.
Promote use of www.gspin.org, the statewide information network for suicide prevention, intervention and aftercare.
2. Be a part of the Communty Action Team. Working with others to move a strategy forward!
Organize an Email Action Network among your own circle of family and friends who would be willing to support very simple suicide prevention efforts in Georgia, and use their connections to grow your network further. Then activate your email network team, as you need them.
When an action is required, contact your network via your email list. Ask them to take the action required and report back to you, all via email. These actions could be legislative, but they could also be a variety of things like volunteers needed for awareness events, or a radio or TV opportunity needs a speaker, etc. The steps that you need to take will always be clear and mapped out for you.
Sign up to be connected to the National Field Advocate program. This program works similarly to the Community Advocate program using your same email network, but interaction is with your Legislature in Washington, DC. The difference is that the decisions being made on a National level usually impact funding opportunities and national level decisions. Where as the state level advocacy impacts your community directly and often FAST!! So make sure to be a part of both voices!!
3. Hiking the Hill on Capitol Day! Responding to Action Alerts - Call, Email or Mail your Legislators
Come and Hike the Hill with the rest of the Georgia Community Action Team members! It is a powerful day, that gives you the opportunity to share the voices of youself and your own community. Some years we are actually fighting for important legislature that will move forward our Suicide Prevention State Plan! But all years we are education our legislators of the real crisis that is happening in all of our Georgia communities.
Suicide Prevention Day at the Capitol is only one day of the year. It is a very important one, but there are things going on all year that sometimes need our voice and need it right then! So also responding to the Action Alerts is a very important component of advocacy and creating political will.
Especially when we have legislation on the floor, we need those phones ringing from out in the community to ask for legislators support in real time!
Within any of these suggestions, you can design your own level of commitment to meet the needs of your schedule. The actual steps you take, and the order you take them in, are up to you. But your voice is an important one!