Rona Menashe / Victoria Collins
Executive Vice President
Didi Hirsch Holds a VIRTUAL Alive & Running 5K Walk/Run to Save Lives
August 28, 2020
Melissa Rivers to Head Kickoff Ceremony
Culver City, CA – August 28, 2020 – Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services will host its 22nd Annual Alive & Running 5K for Suicide Prevention virtually for the first time in the organization’s history on Sunday, September 13, 2020. Kicking off September’s Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month with a ceremony headed by Melissa Rivers the event begins at 8:00am on Facebook Live and will be available for viewing afterwards on aliveandrunning.org.
The life-affirming event, which brings survivors of suicide and loved ones together each year, was shifted to virtual to protect supporters’ physical health from COVID-19, which also continues to devastate Americans’ mental health. A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 40% of US adults are now struggling with mental health or substance use from some combination of isolation, financial insecurity, racial trauma, and even the virus itself. CDC findings in youth are also concerning—1 in 4 teens and young adults seriously considered suicide in the past month—prompting CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield to warn that suicides and drug overdoses have now surpassed the death rate for the virus among high school students.
“Without added support, the mental health effects of COVID-19 on children, teens, and young adults could damage entire generations. Many will tragically take their own lives. We all have a responsibility to look for signs of and prevent trauma, depression, anxiety, and suicide in others as much as we track symptoms of the virus to prevent its spread,” says Dr. Jonathan Goldfinger, MD, MPH, FAAP, a nationally recognized pediatrician who was welcomed as the new CEO at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services in July. As the new leader of the 78-year-old organization, Goldfinger has expertise in intergenerational trauma and team-based care and is a tireless advocate for mental health services access for marginalized and vulnerable children and families.
Two mothers who lost teens to suicide have shown their support for Alive & Running by sharing their stories in videos on the event’s website, and are available for interviews on request:
- Sherry Yanigisawa, who lost her 14-year-old son, Aaron, to suicide, is now doing outreach at schools in her son’s memory. “It’s very important for me to be able to reach out to these teens, because teen suicide is too high,” Sherry says. “They are not alone – there is help out there waiting for them. Just reach out and talk.”
- Julia Asea, who lost her 19-year-old-son, Julian, to suicide, now co-facilitates support groups for people who have lost a loved one to suicide. “I wouldn’t be here without the support I got from Didi Hirsch,” she says. “I want to give back what was given to me. It was a gift. And I want to share that because I know that you can get through it with help.”
Each year Alive & Running raises funds and awareness for the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center—the first in the nation and a leader in developing and disseminating suicide prevention strategies nationwide. Founded in 1958, the Center recently relocated to Century City to expand its national impact by nearly doubling the counselors answering its 24/7 multilingual Crisis Line, and growing services for people affected by suicide. Didi Hirsch now offers online teen suicide bereavement support groups as part of the Everychild Suicide Prevention Project and holds an annual Teen Summit to provide at-risk teens an opportunity to share stories, learn from one another and practice leadership skills.
Melissa Rivers, a member of Didi Hirsch’s Board of Directors, is a sponsor of the event and is featured in a kickoff ceremony that will air on Sept. 13. “I know from personal experience how devastating it is to be a teen who loses a loved one to suicide,” said Rivers, who was a college student when her father, television producer Edgar Rosenberg, died by suicide. She received Didi Hirsch’s Beatrice Stern Media Award in 2016 for her passionate efforts to raise suicide awareness among teens and college students. “The teen bereavement support groups that Didi Hirsch offers are a critical service for the community, and one I wish was around when I was going through my grieving process.”
Fletcher Family Foundation is Alive & Running’s Presenting Sponsor. Media partners for the event include Power 106, KLOS, KDAY, CALI 93.9 and Los Angeles magazine.
Supporters can help save lives in any or all of the following ways:
- Join activities on aliveandrunning.org; register to get a T-shirt, create or join a team, connect on social media, or share a post showing your support.
- Join the movement on Sunday, Sept. 13 at 8:00 am PST by watching Didi Hirsch’s Kickoff Ceremony on Facebook Live or afterwards on the website at aliveandrunning.org.
- Run or walk in the safety of your own neighborhood while bringing cheer to others; take a selfie waving or engaging from 6 feet away, post it on social media and tag @Didi_Hirsch.
- Support suicide prevention with a donation!
ABOUT DIDI HIRSCH MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES:
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services transforms lives by providing mental health, substance use and suicide prevention services in communities where poverty or stigma limits access to care. Didi Hirsch’s first-in-the-nation, comprehensive Suicide Prevention Center operates two 24/7 English/Spanish hotlines: the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for anyone who is or knows someone in a crisis, and the national Disaster Distress Helpline for anyone in distress as a result of natural or manmade disasters. The Center also provides crisis services and therapy for people affected by suicide, as well as prevention training for students, teachers, police and first responders. Over 157,000 children and adults were served in 2019 at 10 locations and 120 schools in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Learn more at www.didihirsch.org
For more information about the event, please visit www.aliveandrunning.org.