Director of Communications & Development
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month Wraps Up With Over 2,500 Southern California Residents Turning Out at the 21st Annual Alive & Running 5K Walk/Run for Suicide Prevention on Sunday, September 29, 2019
October 1, 2019
Event Raises Over $475K for the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center
Los Angeles, Calif. (October 1, 2019) – With actress Catherine Hicks (best known for her role as Annie Camden on 7th Heaven) as emcee, Suicide Prevention Advocate Talinda Bennington as a speaker, and Power 106 FM and Los Angeles Magazine as media partners, the 21st annual Alive & Running Walk/Run for Suicide Prevention surpassed its goal, raising nearly $500,000 for Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services’ Suicide Prevention Center. The record-breaking event, which wrapped up Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month, took place on Sunday, Sept. 29 and drew over 2,700 participants. This year’s Alive & Running also marked the 61st year that the Suicide Prevention Center has been saving lives.
The life-affirming event remembers loved ones and raises funds and awareness for the Didi Hirsch Suicide Prevention Center—the first and most comprehensive in the nation. Founded in 1958, the Center recently relocated to Century City to expand its national reach by nearly doubling the counselors answering its 24/7 multilingual Crisis Line, and growing services for people affected by suicide. Didi Hirsch offers training to help people recognize and respond to warning signs and support groups for people who have attempted or are bereaved by suicide. Didi Hirsch also now has teen suicide bereavement support groups as part of the new Everychild Suicide Prevention Project. Over the past 21 years, Alive & Running has raised nearly $4 million for the Suicide Prevention Center.
“Whether you’ve thought about suicide or you’re worried about someone or you’ve lost someone you love, as long as you are alive and running or alive and walking, there is help and hope,” said emcee Catherine Hicks. “People do not reach out for help if they are ashamed. That is why it is so important to talk about suicide. When we remember loved ones and learn the warning signs, we are helping to erase stigma. And when people are comfortable reaching out for help, that is how lives are saved.”
Talinda Bennington, who lost her husband, Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, to suicide in 2017, spoke at the event accompanied onstage by their 7-year-old daughter, Lily.
“Chester overcame a childhood filled with abuse and drugs to become an incredible musical artist. He brought joy to tens of millions of fans, but he struggled with depression and substance use. As his wife and partner, I often felt scared and alone,” Bennington said. She partnered with Give an Hour and The Campaign to Change Direction to launched 320 Changes Direction – an effort to streamline mental health resources, and named in honor of her husband, whose birthday was March 20th.
“As many of you know, the pain doesn’t go away but it changes,” Bennington added. “And you find out that the death of a soulmate or a dad doesn’t mean the death of you. To everyone touched by suicide, I know how much you miss your loved one. But please know the human heart has almost endless room for grief, joy, happiness, sadness … and love.”
Didi Hirsch’s 2019 Mental Health Ambassador Alex Boyé performed at the event for his second year in a row, while TV Personality Eric Bigger, a finalist on the thirteenth season of “The Bachelorette,” led the warm up. On-air talent from Power 106 and KDAY helped with announcements and music and brought an art installation in the shape of the words “What is Your Why?” for people to write on.
Didi Hirsch President/CEO Dr. Kita S. Curry encouraged people to learn the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and then demonstrated how iPhone’s Siri will connect you to help if you ask about suicide. “Depression is a treatable illness, just like allergies are treatable,” she said. “We have so much to offer people, and you’re going to know about it when you leave!”
After the race, Dr. Curry presented the Community Partner Award to Dr. Jonathan Sherin, Director of the Los Angeles County’s Department of Mental Health, who said: “Suicide tends to occur in the context of isolation… It’s through things like the Suicide Prevention Center, which we invested in and which Kita has been driving for many, many years and all of the engagement we have in community that we’re trying to build connected communities. I talk about the other LOL, which is the lethality of loneliness. We must reach out to each other in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our schools, in our workplaces, wherever we are, for people who are suffering and let them know that they are not alone and that there’s help available.”
Pamela Kluft, Vice Chair of Didi Hirsch’s Board of Directors and Chair of the Event, presented the Inspiration Award to Michael Lynch, whose brother Johnny died by suicide, and Miguel Serricchio, whose 20-year-old son, Alejandro, died by suicide; Board Chair Chris Harrer presented the Hope Award to the captain of Team H.O.P.E (Hold-On-Pain-Ends) to Juanita Benitez, whose father and brother both died by suicide.
For photos, please CLICK HERE.
ABOUT DIDI HIRSCH MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES:Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services has provided free mental health, substance use disorder and suicide prevention services since 1942. Dedicated to serving communities where stigma or poverty limits access, Didi Hirsch helps more than 120,000 children and adults from 10 locations and 100 schools throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties each year.
Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center is the nation’s first and an international leader in training, research and crisis services. Our Center was the first to provide 24/7 crisis counseling and has been a leader in innovating new strategies and programs for people in crisis since 1958. Our multilingual crisis line answered more than 100,000 calls and chats nationwide in 2018. We are one of three crisis centers in the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network that offers 24/7 Spanish coverage. We are one of three selected for the national Disaster Distress Helpline. Learn more at www.didihirsch.org.
For more information about the event, please log onto www.aliveandrunning.org
To view a video of last year’s event created by media partner Power 106, go to: https://youtu.be/Zt9eYm3X790