The membership of AAS includes mental health and public health professionals, researchers, suicide prevention and crisis intervention centers, school districts, crisis center volunteers, survivors of suicide loss, attempt survivors, and a variety of lay persons who have in interest in suicide prevention.

How We Accomplish These
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AAS Mission Statement

To promote the understanding and prevention of suicide and support those who have been affected by it.

AAS Vision Statement

We are an inclusive community that envisions a world where people know how to prevent suicide and find hope and healing.

Suicide Prevention is Everyone’s Business

We accomplish this mission by directing efforts to:

  • Advance Suicidology as a science; encouraging, developing and disseminating scholarly work in suicidology.
  • Encourage the development and application of strategies that reduce the incidence and prevalence of suicidal behaviors.
  • Compile, develop, evaluate and disseminate accurate information about suicidal behaviors to the public.
  • Foster the highest possible quality of suicide prevention, intervention and postvention to the public.
  • Publicize official AAS positions on issues of public policy relating to suicide.
  • Promote research and training in suicidology.

Founded in 1968 by Edwin S. Shneidman, PhD, AAS promotes research, public awareness programs, public education and training for professionals and volunteers. In addition, AAS serves as a national clearinghouse for information on suicide. 

AAS, a not-for-profit organization, encourages and welcomes both individual and organizational members.

AAS is an Equitable Organization

AAS believes in equity for our members and in our services. From the leadership team, the Board of Directors, to our staff and committees, equity is a priority from the top down.


For questions please contact

Amelia Lehto

Interim Executive Director, Chief of Staff and Director of the National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide (NCPYS)

Amelia has worked in crisis services and suicide prevention for the past 15 years. She is a past Chair of the Crisis Centers Division of AAS’s Board of Directors, where she spent time transforming the division, establishing the Crisis Services Committee, and welcoming new membership into the organization. She specializes in crisis service quality improvement, suicide prevention initiatives, postvention support group development, and facilitation skills. Additionally, she consults on social media strategy and policy, development, management, and customer engagement. Amelia is recognized as a leader in suicide prevention and postvention on the local, state, and national levels.

She is an advisor and past President of Michigan-based nonprofit, Six Feet Over, which provides financial and supportive services to families and loved ones following the suicide loss of their person. Amelia is also an advisory council member, conference committee member, and Survivor of Suicide Loss Support Group co-founder to Kevin’s Song, a nonprofit providing educational opportunities to stakeholders and supportive resources to suicide loss survivors and people with lived experience. She has consulted with several organizations, including the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Live Through This Project; Google; TikTok; and The S Word documentary. She has also served as a Certified American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED Instructor and a LivingWorks Education ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and suicideTALK Master Trainer. After experiencing loss at a young age, she discovered that one is not defined by how they died, but how they lived.

Rachael Ng, MBA

Director of Membership

Rachael is a member relations and membership development executive with a decade of successful experience in membership growth, member success management, and community development. She specializes in relationship building and regularly learning about how to help associations to build a member-centric culture. Being of service to others is the epicenter of Rachael’s life – it is the main reason she feels joy and inspired working with AAS. Rachael has a magnetic presence and uses her positive attitude and energy to empower others to reach out for support and find the community they feel belong to. Outside of work, Rachael enjoys hiking, reading, writing, cooking, listening to music, practicing yoga and taking adventure trips with her lovely family.

Chris Sandwell, MS, LPC, NCC, CCTP, CSC

Director of Accreditation, Training, and Certification

Chris has extensive experience as a clinician, administrator, consultant, and trainer in the behavioral health and human services fields. She has been employed with Behavioral Health Response (BHR) for over 20 years and is currently in the role of Associate Director of Compliance & Business Regulations. In her current role, she is directly responsible for policies, corporate compliance, accreditation, business continuity, vendor management, HIPAA, and risk management. You may know her from her work as an ASIST Trainer, Consultant, and Coach for LivingWorks.  Ms. Sandwell continues to provide Trauma-Informed Care, ASIST, Naloxone, Mental Health First Aid, and Youth MHFA training. Her accreditation experience includes being a surveyor for CARF and the American Association of Suicidology (AAS).  In April of 2021, she took on the role of Manager of Crisis Services Accreditation & Certification for AAS and in April of 2022 was promoted to the Director of Accreditation, Training, and Certification. In her downtime, she is a proud mom of six (four kids and two Corgis) and spends her time in St. Louis or in Elkland, MO (population 1,956) with her spouse Lee.

Michele Martin

Training Manager

Michele has spent the past 15 years working in health and wellness with the collegiate population. She started as a Fitness Director and worked her way to an Associate Director with campus recreation prior to being tasked with creating a new Student Wellness & Health Promotion department. She has played integral roles in helping to design and open two campus recreation centers, which have received national recognition within the field of campus recreation. Additionally, she has served as chair of university staff council, in multiple volunteer capacities in the National Intramural Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA), and as a Clinical Advisory Board Member for the Jordan Porco Foundation (a suicide prevention organization in CT). 

She has certifications in Public Health, Mental Health First Aid, Wellness Coaching, American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED Instructor, Diversity Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace, Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory facilitator, Screening Brief Intervention & Referral to Treatment facilitator, Peer Body Project facilitator & supervisor, and is working towards being a QPR Instructor. 

She specializes in building infrastructure, process improvement, training and development, and building partnerships. Her passion for mental health was realized through her own lived experience, volunteering with the National Alliance of Mental Illness, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Postpartum Support International. 

Her free time is spent with her witty husband Luke and her two brilliant sons. She volunteers in the community and even received a “Key to the City” for organizing a group to distribute over 90K reusable face masks during the Covid-19 pandemic. Her favorite television shows are Schitts Creek, This is Us, Golden Girls, Friends, The Office, and reality tv. She enjoys exercising, reading, board games, and traveling. 

Ariya Sonethavy

Communications Coordinator

Ariya joined AAS in 2021 as the Communications Coordinator. They previously interned for National Skills Coalition, a Washington D.C. nonprofit organization focused on workplace development. Their experience includes social media management, graphic design, communications, and public relations. Ariya attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst and received a BFA in Communications in 2020.