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.
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. Learn more about AAS’s history.
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.
Chief Executive Officer
Colleen Creighton joined the American Association of Suicidology in June 2017. Previously, she served as Executive Director of the Alliance for Consumer Education (ACE), a nonprofit foundation dedicated to the safe and responsible use of consumer household products. She also served as Director of CHPA Educational Foundation where she was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day management of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association’s educational foundation.
Prior to her work in the nonprofit foundation arena, Ms. Creighton worked in the educational field, having taught civics education at the elementary, middle, and secondary levels. Additionally, she spent three years in Lancut, Poland working for the International World Teach program, an organization based out of the Harvard University Center for International Development. Before that, she studied NATO and the European Union at the Irish Institute for European Affairs in Leuven, Belgium.
Colleen holds a B.A. in Political Science from the Catholic University of America and a M.A. in East European Studies from the Freie Universität Berlin in Germany.
Amy J. Kulp, MS
Chief Operating Officer
Director, National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide
Amy has been with AAS since 1995, when she was hired as the Administrative Assistant, and has been the Deputy Director since 2000. Amy also serves as the Director of the National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide, a program of AAS. Prior to coming to AAS, Amy was a certified crisis counselor at Grassroots Crisis Intervention in Columbia, MD. She was the recipient of the 2000 AAS Roger J. Tierney Award for Service. She holds a BSW in Social Work, and an MS in Applied Behavioral Sciences from Johns Hopkins University. Amy is on the Board of Directors for the National Organizations for Youth Safety. In her spare time, she works with the high school youth at her church and co-leads a support group for breast cancer survivors.
Director of Trainings & Accreditation Programs email@example.com
Jennifer Tinch, is the Project Manager at the American Association of Suicidology. Her experience includes managing leadership, professional development, and membership programs for associations. Her background includes community college program administration, education research, as well as arts administration/education. Jennifer earned a Master’s degree in Arts Administration, and a Bachelor’s degree in Education.
Sara Lycett joined AAS in 2012 as a Research Assistant. Currently, she assists in the day-to-day activities of the organization, as well as providing assistance to AAS’ training programs. She attended Salisbury University where she received her BA in Psychology, and Marymount University where she received her MA in Forensic Psychology. Sara is also a former intern of AAS.
Director of Public Relations and Media
Chris has worked in the suicide prevention and mental health field for the past decade, first as a volunteer crisis counselor and then later as a statewide suicide prevention grant administrator. He was previously with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and worked closely with crisis centers across the country to connect and collaborate. He is passionate about understanding suicide, harnessing the capability of social media to prevent it, and strives to advocate for the voices of those with lived experience.
His mission is to collaborate with media companies and journalists to help them effectively communicate about suicide with the general public, the research behind its prevention, and to accurately talk about the scale of the problem. Chris works fervently to build relationships with media professionals, like he’s done with Netflix, Lionsgate, CBS/Viacom, YouTube, Riot Games, Washington Post, New York Times, MTV, TODAY, Good Morning America, ESPN, RollingStone, USA Today, CNN, BuzzFeed News, Newsweek, and more. He has consistently found ways to collaborate with artists, musicians, celebrities, and advocates (e.g. Andrew W.K., Kate Nash, Rachel Bloom, Congresswoman Susan Wild, the Biden/Harris Campaign, etc.) in non-traditional ways, better connecting to the public at large and creating larger exposure for the cause.
Mr. Maxwell is an advisory board member for OurDataHelps.org, which allows people to donate their social media data to be used for mental health research and allow clinicians to create treatment tools. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Crisis Organization Directors (NASCOD). Follow him on twitter @chrsmxwll.
Membership and Publication Cooridinator
Nicole joined AAS as an intern in 2013 and then later in the position of Membership & Publications Coordinator in 2015. She has previously served on the President’s LGBT Task Force at Northern Arizona University (NAU) and received the Gold Axe Award for outstanding community service. Nicole decided to focus her career on working with forensic populations and crisis services during her internship as a Victim Advocate at Victim Witness Services of Coconino County. In her spare time, she enjoys working with her hands on home improvement projects and volunteering with animal rescue groups. Nicole holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Northern Arizona University and a Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology from Marymount University.
Chris Sandwell, MS, LPC, NCC, CCTP
Manager of Crisis Services Accreditation & Certification
Chris Sandwell has extensive experience as a clinician, administrator, consultant, and trainer in the behavioral health and human services fields. She 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 trainings. Her accreditation experience includes being a surveyor for CARF and American Association of Suicidology (AAS). In April of 2021 she took on the role of Manager of Crisis Services Accreditation & Certification for AAS. In her down time, 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.
Edwin S. Shneidman establishes the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) in 1968
AAS was founded by clinical psychologist Edwin S. Shneidman, PhD, in 1968. After co-directing the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center (LASPC) since 1958, Dr. Shneidman was appointed co-director of The Center for Suicide Prevention at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, MD. There he had the opportunity to closely observe the limited available knowledge-base regarding suicide.
Consequently, under the sponsorship of the NIMH, he organized a meeting of several world-renowned scholars in Chicago, determined the need for and fathered a national organization devoted to research, education, and practice in “suicidology,” and advancing suicide prevention.
With his years of leadership directing a suicide prevention center, Shneidman was quick to recognize a contemporaneous and rapid expansion of the crisis center/hotline movement across the United States.
The newly established AAS embraced these centers as sources of research information on suicidal clients. Soon, the relationship between AAS and these centers was symbolic.
AAS became the central clearing house for support and the hub of a many-spoked wheel, networking these centers to common needs, training materials, and goals.
Certification & Training
It was a result of this marriage of research and crisis counseling that led AAS to develop a set of standards and criteria for certification of crisis centers throughout the United States. Since certifying its first center in 1976, AAS now has over 120 centers meeting stringent standards of services and training.
In 1989, AAS began a certification program for individual crisis workers as well. By the end of 2015, over 1,000 individuals had passed a rigorous examination of their knowledge and application of crisis theory to their work clients. AAS continues to take a leadership position in the crisis center and suicide prevention movement.
AAS Becomes a Membership Organization
In addition to crisis center staff and volunteers, AAS membership includes researchers, mental health clinicians, public health specialists, school districts, survivors of suicide loss, attempt survivors, and students.
From a small group of leaders who met in Chicago in 1968, AAS now boasts a membership of almost 1,100 individuals and over 150 organizations.
AAS produces a referral directory of over 600 suicide prevention and crisis centers nationwide and a directory of almost 300 survivor support groups.
The Work of AAS
Thousands of calls are received annually in the AAS Central Office from the public and the media regarding referrals and informational needs. Public education and information have become core functions of AAS.
To that end, AAS has produced a variety of fact sheets, brochures, statistical reports, books, and resources offered to the public and professional communities.
AAS has produced major conferences of research presentations and panels, training workshops, and interactive discussions annually since its inaugural meeting. Major papers from this meeting often appear in addition to independently submitted research and case studies, in the Association’s peer-reviewed journal Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior.
AAS also sponsors a second conference each year, Healing After Suicide Loss, which brings together professionals and survivors to share information specific to working through suicide bereavement.
In January 1995, AAS moved its Central Office to Washington, DC after 14 years in Denver, CO.
An active program of externally supported research and prevention programming has begun and complements AAS’s on-going investment in setting standards for and upgrading the skills and understandings of those who work with at-risk individuals. AAS is the nationally-recognized leader in developing and implementing training and accreditation programs. Our evidence-based trainings include Recognizing and Responding to Suicide Risk, Psychological Autopsy Certification Training, College and University Suicide Prevention Accreditation, and many more.
With suicide a constant reality with no boundaries in our society, it touches the old and young, rich and poor. Regardless of race, religion, or gender we all are impacted in some way by suicide. Our goal is not to eradicate suicide, but through impact, one by one, the lives of those who are or may yet be suicidal.
The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) is a 501(c)3 non-profit association dedicated to the understanding and prevention of suicide. All donations made to AAS are tax-deductible.
Federal Employer ID: 95-2930701