“If we can help erase the stigma of mental illness and suicide for our kids, we can change the future for their generation.” - Mark Ballas
After the death of Shirley’s brother and Mark’s Uncle, David Rich in 2003, both needed time to deal with their grief. While their friends and family knew of David’s suicide, Mark and Shirley did not speak about it publicly. In early 2010 they jointly decided that the time had come to “go public” with their story. They participated in several events generating awareness of suicide prevention, including Shirley’s 50th Birthday Party as a fundraising event to support suicide prevention awareness programs. That party was the catalyst for the creation of The Ballas Foundation. Mark and Shirley wanted to raise money and be able to direct what programs they would fund with the proceeds from their efforts.
We seek to promote a public health model along with a media campaign to raise awareness of suicide. We will use an educational approach to dispel the myths about suicide, and improve the availability and access to resources, which foster prevention and awareness.
The only way to erase the stigma of mental illness and suicide is through education. Get informed, get educated, get involved. Speak out, make your support known to elected officials and educators in your area. At the Ballas Foundation one of our goals is to get people talking about suicide prevention and raise awareness. Our plan is to eventually support programs throughout the country. The more money we raise, the more programs we can fund. You can help us achieve our goals by supporting the Ballas Foundation.
“I am delighted to have Mark Ballas as a Member of the Mental Health Task Force and advocate for the Mental Health in Schools Act. Mark’s courage is helping us break down the stigma surrounding mental health, and his passion is helping us reach the many young people who struggle with mental health issues. I look forward to continuing to work with him to raise awareness and improve our country’s youth mental health services.” - Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano