NEW YORK (May 15, 2014) –A distinguished group of honorees will be recognized during the 26th Annual Lifesavers Dinner on Thursday, May 22, a gala event hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP, AFSP.org) and dedicated to raising awareness and funds for AFSP’s suicide prevention research and educational initiatives. Returning to the beautiful Jazz at Lincoln Center in the heart of New York City’s iconic Columbus Circle, this year’s event will be hosted by accomplished actress Gabrielle Anwar, well known for her roles in The Tudors and Burn Notice. The Lifesavers Dinner is attended by guests from the worlds of politics, science, media, entertainment and business as well as by many families who have been touched by suicide. In the past 10 years alone, the Lifesavers Dinner has raised more than $6 million for AFSP to continue its life-saving work. The 2014 event chair is Steven J. Romano, M.D., Senior Vice President, Global Medicines Development Head, Pfizer Innovative Pharmaceuticals Business.
Honorees recognized each year symbolize hope, courage and commitment to suicide prevention.
The 2014 honorees include:
- Survivor of Suicide Loss Award: Tregg Duerson
Inspired by his late father, NFL Humanitarian of the Year award winner Dave Duerson, who died by suicide in 2011, Tregg has become an advocate for concussion safety and suicide prevention. He re-established his father's foundation, The Dave Duerson Foundation, to provide concussion diagnostic tests to disadvantaged communities, volunteers with Mental Health America of Illinois (MHAI), and speaks at events and conferences nationwide. Eric Hipple, a former NFL player who lost his son to suicide, will present Tregg with his award.
- Humanitarian Award: Arnold Fisher
Congressman Chris Gibson (NY-19) will present Fisher with the Humanitarian Award. Fisher is recognized for his efforts to treat the invisible wounds of war, including work with the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and for raising public awareness about TBI and PTSD. By establishing the National Intrepid Center of Excellence and Satellite Centers, Fisher has provided our troops with state of the art brain injury centers to seek help and treatment while bringing a new level of national attention to this critically important issue to save lives in and out of the Military.
- Corporate Award: Bridge of Life / Samsung Life Insurance
Their work to turn the Mapo Bridge in Seoul, South Korea, the site of many suicides, into the “Bridge of Life” is truly inspiring. By modifying the guardrails and installing sensor-activated messages of hope, they have decreased the rate of suicide. The City of Seoul and Samsung Life Insurance are planning to expand this project to other bridges.
- Research Awards: Guy S. Diamond Ph.D. and Gary M. Diamond Ph. D.
Dr. Guy Diamond is Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Associate Professor at Drexel University in the College of Nursing and Health Professions. At Drexel, he is the Director of the Center for Family Intervention Science (CFIS) and the Director of the Ph.D. program in Couple and Family Therapy. Dr. Gary M. Diamond is an Associate Professor of the Department of Psychology at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel.
Past honorees have included:
- Actress and author Mariel Hemingway has been a passionate advocate for mental illness and suicide, speaking about her family – having lost her novelist grandfather, Ernest, and sister, Margaux – as well as her own struggles with depression.
- NBC "Today" news anchor Natalie Morales received the Public Education Award for openly and effectively discussing the loss of her friend, freestyle skier Jeret Peterson.
- Food Network celebrity chef Melissa d’Arabian who lost her mother 25 years ago to suicide and partners with AFSP in its mission to raise the volume on a national conversation about suicide.
- Academy award-winner Marcia Gay Harden, Emmy award-winner Joe Pantoliano, and writer-director Joseph Greco received the Public Education Award for the film Canvas, a moving and accurate depiction of one family’s struggle with schizophrenia.
- National Football League was recognized for its work to encourage help-seeking behavior among its players, their family members and team personnel through its establishment of the NFL Life Line, of which AFSP is a partner.
- Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, retired Army vice chief of staff, received the Humanitarian Award for his leadership in suicide prevention among the brave men and women serving in uniform.
- Sgt. Kevin Briggs was honored on behalf of the California Highway Patrol for their work in preventing suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Learn more about the 2013 honorees here.
“AFSP’s annual Lifesavers Dinner provides a special opportunity for the many friends and colleagues of AFSP to show support for our mission of preventing loss of life from suicide,” said Robert Gebbia, CEO, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “While the purpose of the event is serious, the evening provides an upbeat celebration of hope and survival as well as the opportunity for AFSP to honor individuals who have contributed greatly to the prevention of suicide.”
Suicide Is Preventable: The Facts
A suicide attempt happens every minute of every day. A person dies by suicide about every 14 minutes in the United States making suicide the 10th leading cause of U.S. deaths, the fourth among 18 to 65 year old adults. Yet, more than 90 percent of people who take their own lives have at least one diagnosable and treatable mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and/or alcohol and substance abuse. Despite these statistics, suicide and mental illness remain hidden and shrouded in stigma. With better recognition and treatment many suicides can be prevented.
Visit www.afsp.org to learn more about suicide prevention and education programs, relevant research, how to get involved, as well as information to understand, prevent and cope with suicide.
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The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP, www.afsp.org) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide. To fully achieve its mission, AFSP engages in the following Five Core Strategies: Funds scientific research; Offers educational programs for professionals; Educates the public about mood disorders and suicide prevention; Promotes policies and legislation that impact suicide and prevention; Provides programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and people at risk, and involves them in the work of the Foundation. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has 65 local chapters with events nationwide. Review the Annual Report to learn more about AFSP’s life-saving work. Join the national conversation on suicide by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.