LifeAct was founded in 1992 in Cleveland, Ohio by Lyman H. (Tim) Treadway who lost his son to suicide. For the first 12 years of its existence, it was a chapter of the research-focused American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
In 2004, with input from a scientific advisory board comprised of experts from University Hospitals Case Medical Center, the organization separated from AFSP to become the Suicide Prevention Education Alliance (SPEA), an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
In its first decade, the organization trained more than 5,000 professionals, including teachers, school counselors, social workers, physicians, nurses, clergy, and law enforcement officers, to see the warning signs of suicide and take steps to keep children safe. In 2000, SPEA’s signature and highly effective program for high school teens was launched, Recognizing Teen Depression and Preventing Suicide.
In 2014, following the release of data showing increasingly younger children contemplating suicide, LifeAct created and launched a middle school program. To date, more than 235,000 Northeast Ohio middle and high school teens have been educated to recognize the warning signs of suicide in themselves and their peers, and to seek professional help.
Under the new leadership of Chief Executive Officer Jack Binder, the organization’s programs, systems, branding and messaging underwent a vigorous review in 2014. As a result, SPEA became “LifeAct” in late 2014 with a new visual identity, messaging and materials that better conveyed the organization’s pro-active, positive approach to promoting life by preventing suicide.
To strengthen the link to referral treatment and follow-up services for area teens, LifeAct entered into a partnership with University Hospital’s Rainbow Babies & Children’s and FrontLine Service.