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The American Association of Suicidology 

The American Association of Suicidology
Chapter:
The American Association of Suicidology
Author(s):

Lanny Berman

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198570059.003.0101
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date: 17 August 2019

The American Association of Suicidology (AAS) (http://www.suicidology.org) was founded by clinical psychologist Edwin S. Shneidman, PhD, in 1968. After co-directing the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center (LASPC) since 1958 with Norman Farberow, PhD, Dr Shneidman was appointed Chief of The Center for Suicide Prevention at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). There he had the opportunity to closely observe the limited available knowledge-base regarding suicide. Consequently, with the support of the NIMH, he organized a meeting of several world-renowned scholars, determined the need for and fathered a national organization devoted to research, education, and practice in suicidology, and advancing suicide prevention.

Given his leadership at the LASPC Shneidman was quick to recognize the contemporaneous and rapid expansion of the crisis centre/ hotline movement across the United States. The newly established AAS embraced these centres as sources of research information on suicidal clients. Soon, the relationship between the AAS and these centres was symbiotic. AAS became the central clearing house for support and the hub of a many-spoked wheel, networking these centres to common needs, training materials, and goals.

As a result of this marriage of research and crisis counselling, the AAS developed a set of standards and criteria for certification of crisis centers throughout the United States and Canada. Since certifying its first center in 1976, the AAS has accredited more than 160 centres meeting what has been described as ‘the gold standard’ of service and training accreditation programmes. In 1989, the AAS began a certification programme for individual crisis workers as well. More than 400 individuals to date have passed a rigorous examination of their knowledge and application of crisis theory to their work

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