A Call to Action
An Open Letter to Los Angeles News Outlets
Join the September 10-16, 2017 Los Angeles Media Project to Prevent Student Suicide and Build Student Mental Health
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 30, 2017
Contact: Toby Gilbert PR
By Ron Silverman, Founder, Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation
In California and across the country, suicide is the leading cause of death for children ages 10-14 and the second leading cause of death among youth aged 15-24. These statistics are what Jessica Calefati at CALmatters calls “a grim reminder that many students’ primary barrier to adulthood is themselves.” (Source: CDC and the National Institute of Mental Health)
This is an uncomfortable topic. No parent thinks this could happen to their child. I am writing because I thought the same thing. Until my beloved, brilliant and beautiful 18-year-old captain-of-the-high-school-track-team son, Matt, took his own life. I learned it can happen to any of us —and does. Every day.
The pain of losing Matt never ends. But out of that pain I am determined to create meaning and purpose. Four years ago, I founded the Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation (MSMF www.mattsfoundation.org) to prevent youth suicide by vetting the nation’s premier evidence-based teen mental health programs and delivering them free-of-charge to middle schools, high schools and colleges.
The alarming youth mental health statistics are growing, numbers so staggering that the California Legislature passed the newly signed-in-to-law Assembly Bill 2246 which mandates that all California schools provide suicide prevention policies and programs for at-risk student populations.
This law is a historic start. But many schools cannot fund such programs even as, in the last 12 months, one in five high school students say they have seriously considered suicide, nearly 14 percent said they had made a plan for suicide, and nine percent reported making one or more suicide attempts. (Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
Much more can and must be done across many more fronts. As painful as it is for me to talk about Matt’s death, my silence is not an option. Public health emergencies call for heroic measures from individuals and communities.
This letter is a Call to Action. We cannot allow child suicide, and a level of teen mental health misery which imperils a generation of children, to stand. We must begin a city-wide conversation to talk openly about the devastating mental health pain our children face, very often alone.
The Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation and I are urging the city’s news outlets to use their leadership and influence to join the Los Angeles Media Project to Prevent Youth Suicide + Inspire Solutions.
I am making a personal plea on behalf on of our city’s children, that every news outlet in Los Angeles come together September 10-16, 2017, to mark National Suicide Prevention Week. In partnership, the media can — each in its own signature style — uniquely tell the many stories of our children and our families who are in need of more support and more answers; uncover and showcase what is working; and ignite a cross-pollinating exchange of ideas to ensure that all of our city’s children can survive their own lives, that every family and every school have the resources and services they need for our children to thrive.
Our children are depending on us.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800. 273. 8255
Many others join me in this Call to Action asking the media of Los Angeles to unite in this important effort to protect our children.
With hope and unceasing focus,
Ron Silverman, Founder Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation,
Senior Managing Director, Bel Air Investment Advisers LLC
Lynda Carter Altman, Actor, Singer, Songwriter
James C. Altman, Attorney and Matt’s childhood friend
Jessica Altman, Law Student and Matt’s childhood friend
Robert A. Altman, Chairman & CEO, ZeniMax Media
Anthony Armato, Matt’s childhood friend and classmate
Vernon M. Billy, CEO & Executive Director, California School Boards Association
Michael Bregy, Ph.D., Superintendent, Beverly Hills Unified School District
Vera Campbell, The Vera R. Campbell Foundation
Ryan Cummins, Co-founder & CEO, Omaze
Sarah Fergusson Chambless, Partner, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
Bob Cook, VP & General Manager – KTTV-TV and KCOP-TV, FOX Television Stations LLC
Kita S. Curry, Ph.D., President & CEO, Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services
John Emerson, U. S. Ambassador (retired) to Germany
Douglas C. Emhoff, Managing Director, West Coast Venable LLP
Harvey Englander, Founding Partner, Englander Knabe & Allen
Miguel Gamboa, Principal, Alliance Neuwirth Leadership Academy
Mitchell Gold, Co-Founder, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Home; Author, Youth in Crisis
Eric M. Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles
Kamala D. Harris, U. S. Senator
Amanda Howard, Founding Principal, Bastiat Capital Management LLC
Mickey Kantor, former U. S. Secretary of Commerce & former U. S. Trade Representative
Michael Karlin, Founding Partner, NKSF&B LLP
Elaine Leader, Ph.D., Founder, Teen Line
Jesse Lee, Founder & CEO, The dFm
Mel Levine, former U. S. Congressman
Stuart Liner, Managing Partner, Liner LLP
Alison Malmon, President & CEO, Active Minds, Inc
Leslie R. Moonves, Chairman, President & CEO, CBS Corporation
Todd Morgan, Chairman & CEO, Bel Air Investment Advisors LLC
Peter and Patti Neuwirth, Alliance Neuwirth Leadership Academy
Mellisa Nielsen, Founder, Mellisa & Co. & The Charity Angels
Conan O’Brien, Television Host, Comedian, Producer
Patrick O’Donnell, Assemblymember, District 70
Rachel Payne, CEO & Co-Founder, FEM Inc
William Quicksilver, CEO & Managing Partner, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP
Melissa Rivers, Actor, Television Host, Producer
Fredric D. Rosen, Entrepreneur
Nadine Schiff Rosen, Writer, Producer
Mickey Segal, Managing Partner, NKSF&B LLP
Harry Evans Sloan, Chairman & CEO, Global Eagle Acquisition LLC
Lisa Specht, Board Chair, The Music Center; Senior Counsel, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
Ross Szabo, CEO, Human Power Project
Teresita Tinajero, President, Instituto Mexicano de Tanatologia A.C. & Author
Tomas Torices, MD, Executive Director, American Academy of Pediatrics, CA Chapter 2
Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, CA Department of Education
Kevin Yamazaki, CEO & Founder, Sidebench, and Matt’s childhood friend and classmate
Biography: Ron Silverman
Senior Managing Director Bel Air Investment Advisors LLC,
Founder Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation
Currently serving as Senior Managing Director at Bel Air Investments Advisors, LLC, with a distinguished career in investment management and law, Ron has been continuously involved in Los Angeles charitable and philanthropic endeavors. He has served on the Boards of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the City of Hope, and Children’s Institute.
Ron is the Founder and Chairman of the Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation, a public charity devoted to combatting the preventable tragedy of youth suicide. Matt’s Foundation (MSMF www.mattsfoundation.org) funds and delivers the nation’s premier awareness and prevention mental health programs to middle schools, high schools, and colleges throughout California. Since 2015, the MSMF-funded programs have touched thousands of students, parents and teachers.