Atwell named metro area suicide prevention director

Clermont County mental health professional Liz Atwell has been named as the Cincinnati Metro Area Director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

“I am very excited. It is wonderful to have a job where you can live your passion,” she said. “This kind of work just seems to call my name.”

Atwell, who lives in the Eastgate area with her family, has devoted her life to the mental heath and wellness of the Clermont County community.

“I started my career as a health educator in 1998 doing mentoring programs and research. I decided that the county needed to focus more on suicide awareness and suicide prevention, especially in the schools.”

Atwell said that she knew that the AFSP board was trying to get things started locally and volunteered in helping them with those efforts.

“For the last three years, I served on the board. I knew it was a group that was trying to get things accomplished in Clermont. They knew that I was involved in suicide prevention work (Atwell has been the associate director of the Mental Health Association since 2004) so I started helping coordinate the efforts of the board.”

The AFSP then started talking about adding a staffperson; conversations with the national office in New York led to the job offer last month.

“I will be coordinating suicide prevention efforts in the county,” said Atwell at a candlelight vigil held for suicide victims and survivors Sept. 14. “I want to do anything I can to support local organizations and give them the tools that they need in order to make a difference. AFSP is committed to that.”

AFSP is the only nation-wide non-profit organization totally devoted to the understanding and prevention of suicide through research and education. They also reach out to those people who suffer from mood disorders and depression and those affected by suicide.

“The AFSP provides information, and especially education, about depression and suicide awareness to community professionals, the media, and the public. We also offer programs for survivors of suicide loss that can be of assistance in prevention.”

The AFSP will sponsor a local suicide prevention walk on Oct. 15.

“Last year, the walk raised more than $50,000,” Atwell said. “Two years ago, more than $25,000 was raised. There are substantial events that are going on and we are making a difference. I look forward to continuing making that difference.”