The 50th Anniversary Gala for San Francisco Suicide Prevention (SFSP) at the St. Regis San Francisco Hotel this Spring, was a remarkable and hopeful evening. Serving as Master of Ceremonies, former Mayor Willie L. Brown described how impressed he was with the interconnectivity of all of the people involved in the event. At the podium, he explained what a pleasure it was to see so many of his good friends including keynote speaker Brian Copeland, gala chair Lisa M. Grotts, and restaurateur, author and gala auctioneer, Narsai David, along with so many other familiar faces all attending for a good cause.
Lisa Grotts and John Grotts – Clint Reilly, Janet Reilly
SFSP founder Bernard Mayes was honored with a letter of congratulations from State Senator Tom Ammiano, and received a proclamation from Mayor Lee’s office recognizing May 1, 2012, as “Suicide Prevention Day.” Brown described his amazement at all of Mayes’ accomplishments including helping to start National Public Radio.
Copeland re-called a time in his life when he was thinking about dying by suicide. He also told humorous and heartwarming stories about his family. In describing depression, he discussed the metaphor of dimming the lights and how we need to find ways to turn them back onto bright.
Maia Panos, Alfred Mandel – John Grotts, Lisa Grotts, Margo Maxey, Richard Maxey
In his role as auctioneer, David introduced the program idea of a “Fund-a-Need” and how SF Suicide Prevention has facilitated over one hundred youth, parent and teacher trainings in the past year. The agency is launching a new electronic crisis counseling service and plans to provide crisis counseling by text in addition to phone and chat to help adolescents in need.
Mort Friedkin, Jenny Rose Friedkin, Amy Friedkin – Venus David, Narsai David
David asked for guests to donate at various spending levels to help the agency institute this program. Commitments were made from $100 to $5,000 and the applause kept going to acknowledge the outpouring of generosity. The result of his auctioning skills exceeded everyone’s expectations with over $50,000 donated to help San Francisco adolescents in crisis. These donations would provide new computer stations to handle text crisis counseling, funding for more youth and adolescent trainings in suicide prevention and training for hotline volunteers to implement the new text program.
The Gala raised over $200,000 for SF Suicide Prevention. Eve R. Meyer, executive director of SFSP, commented last night, “It looks as though the proceeds are somewhere between ‘beyond our wildest dreams’ and ‘over the rainbow.’”
San Francisco Suicide Prevention (SFSP) was founded in 1962 as a response to the collapse of the State’s mental health system and city’s unusually high suicide rate. Its telephone service, the first in the nation to be staffed by trained community volunteers, originally caused tremendous controversy. Now it is one of the most replicated models of cost-effective care in the world. In the last 50 years, with the help of more than 3,500 community volunteers, SFSP has answered over one million incoming phone calls. For more information, call 415/984-1900 or visit www.sfsuicide.org.