Culver City Edition Lead Story West Edition

Walk-run raises $350,000 for suicide prevention

WESTCHESTER — The Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services raised more than $350,000 at its 18th annual Alive & Running Walk-Run for Suicide Prevention Sept. 25.

About 2,300 people gathered at Westchester Parkway near Los Angeles International Airport to support the event.

The annul event raises funds and awareness for the Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center, the nation’s first to study suicide and to have a 24-hour hotline.

It is now a world-renowned leader in training, research and services for people who have thought about or attempted suicide, concerned family and friends and those bereaved by a loss.

The family-friendly event included a health and wellness expo to educate people about suicide, a drawing and special performances by award-winning singers-songwriters and advocates Tom Goss and Larissa Lam.

Suzy Favor Hamilton, a three-time Olympian, seven-time U.S. National Champion and record nine-time NCAA champion runner, led the pre-race warm up and spoke about her brother’s suicide and her own battle with bipolar disorder and a suicide attempt.

Initially misdiagnosed with depression, she began taking anti-depressants that induced mania and “some very embarrassing behavior” that hurt her family and ultimately caused her to write her New York Times best-selling memoir, “Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness,” she said.

In remarks directed at the 300-plus high school and college students who volunteered at the event, Didi Hirsch President and CEO Kita S. Curry talked about her own depression and suicide attempt as a teenager. “When I was 15, I thought I couldn’t do anything right,” Curry said. “I thought no one would ever love me. I didn’t know those were signs of depression and I didn’t know how to make my pain go away. And so I thought suicide was a solution. Luckily, I lived to be here today, helping other people understand suicide and to break the stigma.”

Over the past 18 years, Alive & Running has raised more than $2.5 million for the Suicide Prevention Center, which provides lifesaving services to people who have thought about, attempted or lost someone to suicide. Proceeds from the event send staffers to the scene of a suicide, fund eight-week support groups for people who have attempted suicide or are grieving a loss and provide chat counselors to teens in crisis who otherwise wouldn’t call for support.