MELISSA D’ARABIAN HONORED WITH PRESTIGIOUS ‘SURVIVOR OF SUICIDE LOSS AWARD’ FROM AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION AT 25th ANNUAL LIFESAVERS DINNER
After Losing Her Mother to Suicide More Than 20 Years Ago, the Television Host and Best-Selling Author Serves as a Dedicated and Passionate Advocate for Suicide Prevention
New York, NY (May 17, 2013) – By sharing her personal story and connecting with others affected by suicide throughout the past several years, Melissa d’Arabian’s voice has helped raise the volume on the national conversation about suicide. The television host and cookbook author, who tragically lost her mom to suicide when she was in college, received the prestigious Survivor of Suicide Loss Award from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) during the organization’s 25th Annual Lifesavers Dinner held in New York City on May 8 and hosted by Mariel Hemingway who presented Melissa with the award. Each year, the AFSP honors leaders in suicide prevention and scientific research. Based on her role as a leader and powerful spokesperson for suicide prevention, the leading organization for suicide awareness selected Melissa as this year’s award recipient. This year’s event raised over $475,000 for suicide prevention research, education and advocacy, and to support survivors of suicide loss.
“At the core, I am a daughter who lost my mother to suicide. When I look at the bigger picture though – all the people who have also lost a loved one or those who themselves have struggled with suicide – I believe I have a responsibility to help further the national conversation that says loud and clear, ‘We care about you enough to end suicide,’ said Melissa. “I value the work of AFSP, and I am sincerely grateful for this honor.”
At age 20, while an undergraduate at the University of Vermont, Melissa lost her mother to suicide in April 1989, an event that shook the very foundation of her life. Melissa spent a decade trying to reconcile her mother’s death and experienced what she calls “a true crisis in faith.” Now, Melissa lives her life with purpose, value and strength. She honors her mother in many ways: raising four young women of her own, following her personal life mission, and creating something new each year on the anniversary of her mother’s death. She also honors her mom by being a voice that says with conviction and certainty, “Suicide is preventable.” This passion fuels her dedication to AFSP and advocating for suicide prevention.
“Melissa’s personal story provides comfort and hope to the many survivors of suicides loss,” said Robert Gebbia, executive director of AFSP. “Our foundation is inspired by her dedication and deeply values her important role as a leading voice, bringing much needed attention to this cause.”
Melissa first gained AFSP’s attention on an episode of “The Next Food Network Star” by dedicating a recipe to her mother during a challenge that involved serving military families; her mother was in fact a doctor in the Navy. She became involved initially by offering her favorite comfort food recipe for work being done in support of AFSP’s International Survivors of Suicide Day, conducted every November on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Melissa then played on behalf of AFSP when competing on Food Network’s “Chopped All-Stars” in 2012. Despite coming in second place, she was determined to ensure a donation would be made to AFSP. She pledged to donate $5 for each of her cookbooks sold on FoodNetwork.com for a one-week period resulting in a $7,000 donation. She also participated in the San Diego Out of the Darkness Community Walk, one of more than 300 walks hosted by AFSP to raise awareness and funds. Melissa will give a keynote address at the opening ceremony for the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk – AFSP’s annual national event challenging participants to walk 16-18 miles from dusk until dawn – which takes place this year in Washington, D.C. on June 1-2. Melissa shares her story as a speaker at nationwide events and through media opportunities as well as on her social media channels where her open conversation allows others to share their personal struggles with depression, suicidal thoughts and attempts, and losses of loved ones to suicide.
Melissa began her television career in 2009 when she won season five of “The Next Food Network Star.” She now hosts Food Network’s “Ten Dollar Dinners” and Cooking Channel’s “Drop 5 lbs. with Good Housekeeping.” Her inaugural cookbook, “Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes and Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week,” debuted in August 2012 and became an instant New York Times bestseller.
Founded in 1987 by research scientists and family members who lost a loved one to suicide, AFSP established a goal to create a sustainable private source of support for the research and education needed to prevent suicide. Dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, AFSP reaches out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide. To learn more about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, its programs, research and efforts, visit www.afsp.org.