A renewed sense of optimism filled the Museum of Modern Art in New York City on May 17, 2012 as AFSP’s Lifesavers Dinner raised close to $450,000 for suicide prevention research, education and advocacy. 

The dinner was chaired by Dr. Marco Taglietti, president of the Forest Research Institute of Forest Laboratories Inc. Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian served as the evening’s host. 

“I was 20 when my mom died by suicide, and that event shook the very foundation of my life,” Melissa said. “I’m here to honor those we have lost and those left behind, and to raise the volume on a national conversation about suicide prevention that I think needs to happen.” 

Melissa and over 250 guests were on hand to honor Peter Chiarelli, a retired Army general who has become a powerful voice for suicide prevention; Mariel Hemingway and Natalie Morales, two public figures who helped bring national attention to the problem of suicide while decreasing the stigma surrounding mental illness; and Dr. Gustavo Turecki, a researcher who has contributed to the understanding of brain genetics and their association to suicide.

Natalie Morales received the Public Education Award from Linda Peterson, who lost her son, Jeret, who was Natalie’s friend, to suicide.