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20th Annual Alive & Running 5K Walk/Run for Suicide Prevention Culminates September’s Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month 
By Sentinel News Service

Culminating September’s Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services will hold its 20th Annual Alive & Running 5K Walk/Run for Suicide Prevention on Sunday, September 30, 2018 beginning at 7:00 a.m. at West 88th Street & La Tijera Boulevard just north of LAX. (Schedule of Events is listed below).  Actor/filmmaker Dennis Dugan (Happy GilmoreBig Daddy) will serve as Emcee of the event, which also marks the 60th year that the Suicide Prevention Center has been saving lives.

Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Joe Barksdale, who serves as Didi Hirsch’s Mental Health Ambassador and is a recipient of the agency’s 2018 Erasing the Stigma Leadership Award, said “After having my own difficulties with suicidal thoughts, Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month is a time to remind myself and others that suicidal feelings are nothing to be ashamed about. I strongly encourage anyone who is having suicidal thoughts, or knows someone who is having suicidal thoughts, to speak up and get help. There’s someone who cares about you, there’s someone who loves you, don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Alive & Running is an inspiring, life-affirming gathering of people affected by suicide that remembers loved ones and raises money and awareness for Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center—the first and only one of its kind in the nation. The family-friendly event, which includes live music, speakers, children’s activities and a Health & Wellness EXPO, is expected to have 2,000 runners, walkers and volunteers and to raise over $350,000 for suicide prevention.

This year’s Alive & Running comes just months after the suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, which along with an alarming study showing that suicide has risen 25% since 1999, caused an unprecedented flood of calls to Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Crisis Line. The Center brought in extra counselors and staff and asked volunteers to work double shifts to handle the influx of calls. Call volume continues to remain higher while Didi Hirsch fields a growing number of requests for its suicide prevention trainings.

To meet rising demand Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services purchased a building in Century City that will serve as the permanent home for the Suicide Prevention Center. The new building will allow the organization to expand services to include therapy and support groups for children affected by suicide and a training academy for mental health professionals.

“We need to get the word out that help is available to anyone who is considering suicide,” says Mr. Dugan, who was touched by suicide three times. “My wife’s mother and two of my friends died by suicide. What those dear souls went through to arrive at that point is unimaginable to me.  Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center offers lifesaving services and support for survivors. I hope that everyone who cares about suicide will join me in supporting Alive & Running because working together we can all help save lives.”

The Fletcher Family Foundation is Presenting Sponsor. The event is co-chaired by two Didi Hirsch Board of Directors: Vice Chair Pamela Kluft and Board member Andrew E. Rubin, a Platinum level sponsor. Los Angeles magazine is a media partner for Didi Hirsch’s Alive & Running 5K Walk/Run for Suicide Prevention as well as for its iconic Erasing the Stigma Leadership Awards, which takes place in April. Power 106 is also a media partner for the event.

EVENT SCHEDULE

7:00 am Same-Day Registration

7:30 am Pre-Race Program

7:45 am Warm-up and Stretch

8:00 am 5K Walk/Run Begins!

9:00 am Entertainment

 

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 11 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 2017. We are one of two 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

 

FB: Facebook.com/AliveandRunningLA                                                    Youtube.com/didihirsch
Twitter: @Alive_Running5K                                                                        Instagram:  @didi_hirsch

Suicide affects people from all walks of life. Pre-event interview opportunities with those affected by suicide include NFL football player Joe Barksdale; Director/Writer/Actor Dennis Dugan; and Didi Hirsch’s Board of Directors’ Vice Chair Pamela Kluft.

 

Joe Barksdale
National Football League Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Joe Barksdale, Didi Hirsch’s Mental Health Ambassador, received the agency’s 2018 Erasing the Stigma Leadership Award for speaking publically about his daily struggles with depression and thoughts of suicide to encourage others who are struggling to get help.  “After having my own difficulties with suicidal thoughts, Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month is a time to remind myself and others that suicidal feelings are nothing to be ashamed about. I strongly encourage anyone who is having suicidal thoughts, or knows someone who is having suicidal thoughts, to speak up and get help. There’s someone who cares about you, there’s someone who loves you, don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Dennis Dugan
A talented actor-turned filmmaker who directed Happy GilmoreBig Daddy and many other comedic films and television projects, Dennis will serve as emcee of this year’s Alive & Running.  His interest in suicide prevention is rooted in personal experience: “I have been touched by the tragedy of suicide three times. My wife’s mother and two of my friends have taken their lives. What those dear souls went through to arrive at that point is unimaginable to me. And what those who live on have had to confront is equally inconceivable. If I can contribute anything to help ease the pain of anyone involved in these tragedies, I will do so with my heart and soul.” He and his wife, Sharon, live in Encino.

Pam Kluft
Beverly Hills philanthropist and Vice Chair of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services’ Board of Directors Pamela Kluft became a passionate advocate for suicide prevention after her sister, Beth, died by suicide 6 years ago. “On the outside, my sister, Beth, seemed to have it all. She was beautiful, caring, smart and conscientious and the mother of three wonderful children—Gabrielle, David and Paul. But inside, she struggled with depression—something she hid from others because she didn’t want to be a burden on others. The tragedy of suicide is that people often are too ashamed or afraid to speak of a person who died by suicide—and the silence is like another death.” Pam lives in Beverly Hills.

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