Thursday, July 26, marks the first day of the Week of Hope, created by Southampton resident and philanthropist Audrey Gruss’ Hope for Depression Research Foundation, a leading nonprofit dedicated to fighting depression through research and education.
This week, 45 local businesses in Southampton Village will place a two-foot wide yellow statement balloon by their front door to symbolize hope and their commitment to raising awareness about depression and mental health.
The initiative comes in the wake of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade’s suicides, and that of local Sag Harbor resident and publicist Jeanine Pepler. The event somberly aims to remind people that the suicide rate is rising in the United States, and that depression is a national health epidemic.
“We are proud to participate in the Week of Hope to spark lifesaving conversation about mental health,” Southampton Chamber of Commerce Head, Karen Connolly says. “The yellow balloon represents hope and commitment to changing the staggering statistics that every 12 minutes, a person dies by suicide in the U.S.”
There will also be a Walk of Hope and 5K Run led by Gruss and Southampton Village Mayor Michael Irving on Sunday, August 5 at 9 a.m. Participants will walk or run around Lake Agawam in Southampton, and 100% of the proceeds will go towards research into the root causes of depression in the brain and better possible treatments.
A similar nonprofit on Long Island, The Neighborhood House, is providing support groups for those learning to live with the loss of a loved one due to suicide or drug overdose, as well as prevention programs to help reduce the number of deaths due to those causes.
They’re currently based in Sayville, but with the need for their services expanding, they’re preparing to launch their first East End-based program in Riverhead this fall.
Businesses participating in the Week of Hope include Bean2Tween, Breezin’ Up, Catena’s Inc. Food Market, Collette’s Basement, Collette’s Luxury Consignment, Cantena’s Market, The Corcoran Real Estate, Corwin’s Main Street Jewelers, Ltd., CVS, Eric Messin Jewelry, Fowler’s Garden Center, Flying Point Surf Boutique, Hamptons Tax, Herrick Hardware, Hildreth’s Home Goods, HSBC Bank, Jildor Store, Katherine Tess Southampton, Kevin Maple Salon, Michael Kors, Peter Millar, Shari’s Place, Silver’s Restaurant, Southampton Chamber of Commerce, SouthThrifty, Stevensons, Therapy Life & Style, UBS Financial, Topiaire Flower Shop, Fowler’s Garden Center, Native Son Tobacco, and Shinnecock True Value Hardware.
Look for the yellow balloons.
If you’re struggling with depression or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or the Long Island Crisis Center’s 24/7 Crisis & Suicide Hotline at 516-679-1111.
For more info about the Week of Hope or to sign up for the Walk of Hope and 5K, visit hopefordepression.org.
To learn more about The Neighborhood House, visit tnh-hope.org.