2016 Volunteer of the Year Award Winner
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Utah Chapter
Cetera Advisor Networks
On March 20, 2009 at 3:00 AM, Mary Lou Arveseth received a phone call that forever changed her life: her son, Jed, was dead. He had taken his own life. As Mary Lou and her family coped with this tremendous loss, she began to reach out to other suicide survivors and determined that they should form an official American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) chapter in Utah. AFSP’s mission is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide through a variety of programming, public awareness and advocacy efforts.
During the formation of the Utah Chapter of AFSP six years ago, Mary Lou’s leadership was indispensable. She helped to recruit, nominate and on-board the chapter’s board of directors. She organized and led volunteer committees for fundraising events and programs, including 16 fundraising walks. Since 2010, participation has increased from 200 to 3,000 walkers, leading to even more awareness and adding to fundraising totals. Four short years after its founding, the Utah Chapter received the Chapter of the Year Award from AFSP National. Mary Lou also advocates for policy change and has worked with the Utah Department of Education on suicide prevention training for educators. The Utah Chapter is now branching out to educate public audiences and public health officials about the high level of risk for suicide faced by the LGBTQ community. Mary Lou is continuing to tirelessly campaign to do whatever it takes to fight suicide and bring hope to the loved ones affected by it.