AFSP Announces 25th Annual Lifesavers Dinner Award Honorees

Foundation to Honor Melissa d’Arabian, CHP Sgt. Kevin Briggs, the NFL, Drs. Jules Angst and Maria Oquendo at May 8 Event in New York City


AFSP is pleased to announce this year’s dinner chairs and the distinguished group of honorees who will be recognized at the Foundation’s 25th Annual Lifesavers Dinner.

The event will be held May 8 at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, and will be co-chaired by Dr. William H. Carson, president and CEO, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization Inc., and Staffan Schüberg, president, Lundbeck Inc., U.S. subsidiary of H. Lundbeck A/S.

Actress, author and advocate Mariel Hemingway will serve as the evening’s host.

Mariel Hemingway

Mariel Hemingway.

Hemingway has spoken publicly about the history of mental illness and suicide in her family—including the loss of her novelist grandfather, Ernest, and older sister, Margaux—as well as her own struggles with depression, bringing hope to families who have lost a loved one to suicide and to the millions who live with mental disorders.

Hemingway’s documentary, Running from Crazy, examines the remarkable though often heartbreaking Hemingway family history and brings awareness to an issue she's deeply passionate about.

The 2013 Lifesavers Award honorees are:

Survivor of Suicide Loss Award

Melissa d'Arabian

Melissa d'Arabian.

Melissa d’Arabian, season five winner of “Food Network Star” and the popular host of Food Network’s “Ten Dollar Dinners” and Cooking Channel’s “Drop 5 Lbs with Good Housekeeping,” will be presented with AFSP’s Survivor of Suicide Loss Award for her role as a leader and powerful spokesperson for suicide prevention.

Melissa is a survivor of suicide loss, having lost her mother. On an episode of “Food Network Star,” she talked about her mother’s suicide and dedicated a recipe to her. Her willingness to share her personal story is encouraging more people to seek treatment and is ultimately helping to reduce stigma. Through her performance on “Chopped,” where she competed for a donation to AFSP, her Ten Dollar Dinners cookbook promotion, and her participation in AFSP’s San Diego Out of the Darkness Community Walk, Melissa has raised funds for the Foundation and elevated the much needed conversation about suicide prevention.

Public Service Award

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Kevin Briggs

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Kevin Briggs.

Sgt. Kevin Briggs will accept AFSP’s Public Service Award on behalf of the California Highway Patrol for their work in preventing suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic landmark of San Francisco, but also the site of many suicides over the years. Heroically, Briggs has saved hundreds of people by intervening and successfully talking them out of taking their own lives. By serving the public he is helping to bring awareness to the issue of suicide in his community and nationally, as his story was featured on Yahoo! News.

Humanitarian Award

National Football League

All-Pro defensive back Troy Vincent, who serves as senior vice president of the NFL Player Engagement organization, will be on hand to accept AFSP’s Humanitarian Award on behalf of the National Football League.

The NFL is being 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. The NFL is also generously supporting neurological research that will benefit countless people throughout the country who suffer from brain illnesses and need treatment. The leadership the league is providing has brought a new level of national attention to the problem of suicide, which will save lives both within and outside the NFL family. 

Research Awards

Jules Angst, Prof. Dr. med.

Jules Angst, Prof. Dr. med.

Maria Oquendo, M.D.

Maria Oquendo, M.D.

AFSP Research Awards will be presented to Drs. Jules Angst and Maria Oquendo, whose studies have had a major impact on our understanding of mood disorders as risk factors for suicide.

Dr. Jules Angst, emeritus professor of psychiatry at Zurich University in Switzerland, undertook his psychiatric training at the University’s Burgholzli Hospital, where he would eventually become head of research.

Applying techniques to the study of mood disorders that would later become personal trademarks—an epidemiological approach to sampling, long-term follow-up, reliable definitions of a disorder and sensitivity to its variants—Dr. Angst has made many of the most important contributions to our understanding of these disorders. He was one of three researchers who first proposed in the 1970s that bipolar disorder should be separated from unipolar disorder and his follow-up research has contributed to that distinction. Among other accomplishments, he and his colleagues were the first to show that active treatment with antidepressants, lithium and antipsychotics reduce the rate of suicide in patients with major depression and bipolar disorder.

He is the author of over 1,000 papers, has written over 150 book chapters and has been the author of 15 books. He is known worldwide for his contributions to psychiatry and has received numerous awards for his groundbreaking research. AFSP is honored to present Dr. Angst with the Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Maria Oquendo is professor of psychiatry and vice chair for education and training at Columbia University. She has recently been elected secretary of the American Psychiatric Association and is an associate editor for the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Since the mid-1990s, Dr. Oquendo’s research has concentrated on mood disorders and the outcome of suicide. She has published some of the most quantitatively precise clinical predictive models of suicidal behavior in major depressive disorders, bipolar disorder and comorbid conditions like PTSD, and borderline personality disorder. She has been the recipient of numerous NIMH grants. Her editorial in AJP is probably the single most important reason that suicidal behavior has become part of DSM-V, a significant step for suicide prevention research.

Dr. Oquendo has been an active and involved member of AFSP, and currently serves on the Foundation’s Scientific Council. She will receive AFSP’s 2013 Research Award.

The annual Lifesavers Dinner is attended by individuals from the world of politics, science, media, entertainment and business and is dedicated to raising greater public awareness about suicide. The event also provides financial support for the AFSP’s research and programs. Table and ticket prices are as follows:

Platinum Table $50,000 
Includes one table of 10 with premier seating and platinum journal page

Anniversary Table $25,000
Includes one table of 10 with preferred seating and gold journal page

Silver Table $15,000 
Includes one table of 10 with favored seating and silver journal page

Bronze Table $10,000 
Includes one table of 10 and bronze journal page

Individual Ticket $1,000

All table options include recognition as a 2013 Dinner Sponsor in the printed program, from the podium during the event, as well as in AFSP's annual report, newsletter and website.

To attend the Lifesavers Dinner on May 8, call (212) 363-3500 Ext. 2048 or email You can also purchase tickets and make an online contribution by clicking here.