Welcome. We are the Arizona chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The grassroots work we do focuses on eliminating the loss of life from suicide by: delivering innovative prevention programs, educating the public about risk factors and warning signs, raising funds for suicide research and programs, and reaching out to those individuals who have lost someone to suicide.
As a part of AFSP’s growing nationwide network of chapters, we bring together people from all backgrounds who want to prevent suicide in our communities. Families and friends who have lost someone to suicide, vulnerable individuals, mental health professionals, clergy, educators, students, community/business leaders, and many others energize our chapter.
As an official AFSP chapter since 2010, we have been very active and instrumental in helping to raise awareness of the serious problem of depression and suicide in our communities and state. Through our Out of the Darkness Walks and other fundraising activities, we have raised over $300,000 dollars for research and programs that help to prevent suicide.
These funds have directly benefited our state by allowing us to accomplish the following:
• Furnish Arizona Universities the DVD "The Truth About Suicide: Real Stories of Depression in College." This program is presented to the faculty and students in collaboration with ASU Counseling and the Health and Wellness Center. We received positive feedback from this program and it continues to be used as part of ongoing suicide prevention and education programs.
• Provide information tables at various community events including The Warped Tour, Diamondbacks games, Phoenix Pride Festival, HOPE Conference, Arizona School Counselors Conference, Walk to Prevent Suicide in Tuba City, NAMI Walk in Phoenix & Tucson, and more.
• Sponsor annually a Volunteer Open House where volunteers and members of the community can come together to learn more about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Mission and our impact in the State of Arizona.
• Host an annual State Advocacy Day with Arizona lawmakers to bring awareness to effects of suicide and the need for more legislation and suicide prevention / mental health programs within the state.
• Work closely with the Suicide Prevention Coalition in Tucson & the Arizona Suicide Prevention Coalition in Phoenix to provide information at over 45 events and conferences throughout Arizona.
• Create the first ever First Responder Education & Training Program for the State of Arizona where local first responders are trained on how to assist families who have recently lost someone to suicide.
• Hold an annual Campus Walk at Arizona State University in the spring to bring awareness to college student about mental health and suicide prevention resources available in the community.
• Hold an annual Community Walk in Phoenix and Tucson to bring awareness to community about mental health and suicide prevention resources available.
• Host an annual International Survivors of Suicide Day event in Phoenix & Tucson where survivors of suicide loss can come together and learn more about resources available to them in the community and honor their loved ones.
• Present the "More than Sad" Program to train personnel in suicide prevention at a number of public and private schools in Arizona. This program brings awareness to students, faculty, and parents about the signs and symptoms of mental illness and suicide prevention techniques.
Kathleen Rubi - Arizona Area Director
Kathleen is a natural leader with 15 years of experience in nonprofit management, grass roots fundraising, board and committee development and more than 20 years of combined experience in sales, marketing and operational management. Kathleen has been called “fun and fearless” because she knows championing any cause involves putting yourself out there and rising to the challenge. She considers working in nonprofit is a serious business that requires focus and commitment. She also believes a positive, can-do attitude and a great sense of humor is the best approach to any challenge.
Chapter Board of Directors
Brian Snyder - Chapter Board Chair / Executive Committee
I have been a board member of the Arizona chapter since 2011. I first became involved with AFSP because I lost my friend, Matt, to suicide during our senior year of high school. Unfortunately, I have experienced the loss of several other friends since then. Suicide prevention and education has been very important to me, and I try to speak to as many groups (mostly students) as I can about the topic. As a lawyer with Snyder & Wenner, P.C., I focus my practice on helping those who have been victims of medical malpractice and other personal injuries. My firm has handled several suicide cases throughout the years. Seeing how people are handled in our mental health system has only frustrated me further, but has also kept me dedicated to spreading the word about suicide education and prevention. I look forward to many more years with AFSP, sharing stories with our community, and growing our presence throughout the state.
Sunny Bateman - Chapter Board Secretary / Executive Committee
I originally became involved with the AFSP in December 2013 through a volunteer opportunity at the annual Out of Darkness Walk. Finding the experience emotionally enlightening, I have continued to volunteer with the AFSP as much as possible through community events, walks, advocacy days, and the International Survivor of Suicide Loss Day. Having dealt with personal struggles with depression and anxiety, my goal is to help increase awareness and reducing the stigma that surrounds mental health issues and suicide.
Joyce Morgan - Board Member / Tucson Area
I became involved in the suicide prevention movement when a close co-worker died by suicide many years ago. His death impacted our entire office. For many years to come, our office struggled with his death and the loss we all felt.
Professionally, I have my BS in Social Worker from the University of Pittsburgh and my MSW in Social Work form Arizona State University. I have been employed in the mental field for over 25 years and I currently am employed at The Haven, a residential substance abuse program for women, as the Chief of Clinical Services. I am a strong advocate for mental health services to assist individuals experiencing thoughts of suicide and to help survivors on their path to managing the loss of a loved one.
Chris Papayoti - Board Member
My name is Chris Papayoti. I am an Occupational Therapist in Phoenix, Arizona. My wife died by suicide on January 10, 2014. I became involved with AFSP so I can remember my wife in a positive way by helping others in need. I hope that by taking part in the AFSP activities I will learn more about mental illness.
Kelsey Oney - Board Member
I first became involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in 2012 upon the 5th anniversary of my fathers death by suicide. Originally I had just planned on volunteering for the Phoenix area Out of the Darkness walk that year but after having such a rewarding experience by being able to give back to others, I really began involving myself with AFSP on all levels. It wasn't long after the Out of the Darkness walk that I was asked to join AFSP in their first ever Advocacy Day, held at the Arizona State Capitol.
Having studied history in college, I was excited at the opportunity to become involved with suicide prevention on a political level. At the Capitol, we formed crucial relationships with local Senators and Representatives and helped to produce a successful advocacy day for the AFSP state chapter. As a field advocate, I have had the privilege to attend the annual AFSP Advocacy Forum in Washington DC where I have been able to meet with congressional leaders to follow up about the legislation on a national level. In additon my work with public policy, I am also the International Survivor of Suicide Loss Day Chair and I work with Arizona pageant title holders with platforms of suicide prevention and breaking the stigma on mental illness.
"I've become so involved with AFSP over the years simply because of what I get back from it; as a survivor I heal by helping to provide knowledge to our elected officials and the community. By creating an atmosphere for change, I hope to one day live in a society where suicide and mental illness are no longer stigmatized"- Kelsey Oney
Israel Bateman - Board Member
I became involved with the AFSP when I attended the 2013 Phoenix Out of The Darkness Walk. As an individual who has struggled and still struggles with mental illness, I find the opportunities to participate as a volunteer in the variety of events fulfilling. Ending the stigma surrounding mental illness would lead to many more like me getting the help that they need.
Past Board of Directors
Steve Schiro - Past Board Chair & Current Public Policy Committee Chair
In 2011, my son, Joss, died by suicide. Shortly after Joss' death, my wife and I attended an international Survivors of Suicide Day event, and have been volunteering and working with AFSP ever since.
During this time, I have had the privilege of serving as a volunteer, Arizona Chapter Chair, member of Board of Directors, and member of the AFSP National Public Policy Council, which is instrumental in developing and helping to implement advocacy strategies and policies at both state and national levels. Serving in these various roles has given me a great understanding of how serious the problem of suicide and depression is in our community, state and nation, and the important role that AFSP plays in helping to bring awareness to this problem.
I continue to volunteer with AFSP because each year I have seen the difference that a motivated group of volunteers and advocates can make. I am proud to serve on the AZ. Chapter Board, and to work with all of the wonderful, dedicated volunteers that continue to give their time, and share their stories through presentations and conversations. In so doing, they are helping to save lives by increasing awareness and reducing the stigma that often surrounds depression and suicide.
Theodora Schiro - Past Board Secretary & Senior Advocate
Theodora Schiro received her BS in Elementary Education from Virginia Commonwealth University and her MEd in School Administration from the University of Massachusetts. She has been a public school teacher and administrator for over 30 years, and currently works as a Director in in the Educational Services Department for the Higley Unified School District in Gilbert, Arizona. She joined the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention - AFSP Arizona, after surviving the loss of her son in March, 2011. Determined to address the stigma of suicide and increase awareness of depression and other mental illnesses, Theo is actively working to educate school personnel in suicide prevention.