With filmmaker Dennis Dugan (Big Daddy, Happy Gilmore, Grown Ups 1 & 2) as emcee, World of Dance’ Derek Hough as a speaker, Youtube music sensation Alex Boyé performing, and Power 106 FM and Los Angeles magazine as media partners, the 20th annual Alive & Running Walk/Run for Suicide Prevention surpassed its goal, raising over $425,000 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. 30 and drew over 2,200 participants. This year’s Alive & Running also marked the 60th year that the Suicide Prevention Center has been saving lives.
“The fact that so many of you are out here this morning bringing more awareness and bringing more support is incredible,” said Derek Hough, who lost his uncle to suicide in his teens. “The more we talk about it, the more tangible it becomes, and the more tangible it becomes, the more we can help it, the more we can solve it, the more we can be there for one another…” he added. Hough recently wrote and recorded Hold On, with the mission of bringing awareness to the rising suicide rates and the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
“It’s time we talk to each other and not be embarrassed,” said Youtube sensation Alex Boyé, who performed his suicide prevention and awareness song Bend Don’t Break. “Suicide is not a VIP event. It is an everybody event that affects us all. We have to get rid of the stigma, the idea that suicide affects only certain people,” added the recording artist who will be heading to Broadway to star as Aaron Burr in Hamilton and who is currently working on an album produced by Randy Jackson.
In remarks to the over 2,200 attendees, Didi Hirsch President/CEO Dr. Kita S. Curry shared, "I wanted to run away when I was 15, but I didn’t have anywhere to go, so I tried to run away from life. She added, “I’m lucky I survived. I would have missed out on so much. If anyone here is thinking of suicide, I want you to know you are not alone. I want you to live. That’s why all of us are here today.”
This year’s Alive & Running came 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 28% since 1999, caused an unprecedented flood of calls to Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Crisis Line.
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.
Comedienne and voice over actress Julianne Grossman, a suicide attempt survivor, announced the names of runners and teams as they crossed the finish line. Didi Hirsch Board members and event co-chairs Andrew Rubin and Pamela Kluft, presented the Corporate Hero Award to First Republic Bank; the Heroes of Hope Award to Lyda Eddington, Mary Halligan, Cynthia Kolodny, April Kubachka, Greg Santilli and Laurie Woodrow; and Media Hero Award to Power 106 and its affiliates KDAY and KWHY TV.
Alive & Running remembers loved ones and raises funds and awareness for Didi Hirsch’s Suicide Prevention Center—the first and only one of its kind in the nation. It is now a world-renowned leader in training, research and services for people affected by suicide. Over the past 20 years, Alive & Running has raised over $3 million for the Suicide Prevention Center. Proceeds keep the 24/7 Crisis Line running, send staffers to the scene of a suicide, help educate and train students and first responders and fund support groups for people who have attempted suicide or are grieving a loss.