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Resident Walks For Suicide Prevention

When the 11th annual Alive & Running 5K Walk/Run for Suicide Prevention kicks off in Westchester on Sunday, Sept. 27, 35-year resident Carole Chasin will be among the walkers.

“It’s a fabulous event,” says Chasin. “It’s an opportunity to honor a person—in my case a cousin who died 20 years ago—and be among a community of survivors who have lost a loved one to suicide.”

Every day, 90 Americans—approximately three from Los Angeles County—take their own lives. This means that one American dies by suicide every 16 minutes.

“The statistics are staggering and unsettling, but there is hope,” shares Kita Curry, president and CEO of the nonprofit Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, which provides mental health and substance abuse services.

The organization’s Alive & Running kicks off at 8 a.m. in Westchester, just north of LAX at West 88th Street and La Tijera Boulevard.

There, more than 1,000 runners, walkers, spectators and volunteers from all over Southern California will join to raise awareness and funding for suicide prevention services.

 Proceeds from the event will directly benefit Didi Hirsch’s suicide prevention programs and provide critical funding for its Suicide Prevention Center.

Founded in 1958, the center was one of the first programs in the nation to establish a 24-hour suicide prevention Crisis Line.  The line serves callers from all over California, as well as nationwide, and is managed by staff and trained volunteers. Each year, more than 26,000 people call the crisis hotline.

The work of the center is not new to Chasin. A licensed psychotherapist specializing in bereavement after suicide, Chasin trained on the crisis line while she was in school. She has led survivor support groups through Didi Hirsch and her 12-year-old Beverly Hills practice, and was the original coordinator of the center’s Survivors After Suicide Support Group She also trained members of the city’s Crisis Response Team through The Maple Counseling Center (TMCC).

She continues to stay involved as a volunteer supervisor to interns at TMCC and as a volunteer in the BHUSD. She’s had students come up after her talks and say, “‘I’m worried about my friend.’  The willingness to talk and learn could save the life of an adolescent,” Chasin said.

Adolescents and the elderly have the highest suicide rate, so it’s important to inform and educate, Chasin said.

“Shame and stigma can be lessened if you understand the factors to suicide,” Chasin said, “primarily mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse.”

A key benefit of Alive & Running is that it helps survivors not feel alone, Chasin said. “If there’s someone at the event looking sad, there’s always the opportunity to talk with someone.

“I like to let people know that I’ve been there,” Chasin said. “We have all had a similar loss. And we know one of the best ways survivors heal is by sharing. The heaviness and pain get easier over time. You can’t imagine it at first, but there’s an evolution to it.”

“People don’t want to forget their loved ones,” Chasin said. At the walk, she will be among those wearing shirts and buttons commemorating their loved ones, accompanied by her husband Alan, who was a crisis line counselor for 10 years;  daughter, Lori Fienberg; son-in-law, Dan and her grandchild in the racing stroller.

Registration fee for the 5K is $25 (a tax deductible donation). A “Kiddie-K” (1K) will be held after the start of the 5K  with a $10 registration fee.

For more information or to sign up, visit www.aliveandrunning.org. Chasin may be reached at 310-289-4643.

—Steve Simmons

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