Remembering Stanley Lelewer, chair of Didi Hirsch Board of Directors

My dear friend, Stanley Lelewer, died on Sunday, December 1. I’ve known Stan since eighth grade in Glencoe IL. He used to be the driver when his brother David and I went out on movie dates. He was in my brother’s class at high school, three years a head of me.

StanleyAfter I moved to California I didn’t hear about him again until I saw him on the news talking about the suicide death of his son, who shot himself on the beach in Santa Monica. Six years later when our son Paul killed himself in our home in Manhattan Beach, a mutual friend said I had to meet Stan. Small world. I told her I knew him from our very distant past. This friend called Stan and told him about Paul. Within minutes he called and an hour later he was at our home.

He was my savior. He knew what to do; he knew what to say. And since we had a personal relationship, he told me to call anytime day or night – and I did. We also met his wife and the four of us went out to dinner. He took me out to lunch as well. Stanley and was just there for my husband and me just to talk – any time.

Poster of Paul worn at Didi 5K

Poster of Paul worn at Didi 5K

He also suggested my husband and I participate in the Didi Hirsch eight-week Survivors after Suicide workshop. And as depressing as those sessions were, they had a lasting effect on me. I also found out that as horrific a story of loss as mine was, it could always be worse. Stan’s work at Didi Hirsch was non-stop: a volunteer at its suicide prevention hotline, member then chair of the Board of Directors, and later a first responder with the police when a call comes in about a suicide. He also encouraged me to get involved. I am, but in a more limited way – walking in annual suicide prevention 5Ks, attending Erasing the Stigma luncheons, and donating at the end of each year, in memory of our son.

Stanley, I thank you. I will miss you. You will be forever in my heart.

Also, in keeping Paul’s and Stan’s memories alive here’s some information About Didi Hirsch:

I consider Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services the organization where we attended the Survivors After Suicide group, a charity near and dear to my heart. It is local to us. We have directly experienced its services and programs. I truly believe Paul felt this stigma and shame, and that is what kept him from seeking help and talking about his illness. The work Didi Hirsch does to erase that stigma and to prevent through its mental health programs and suicide support groups and suicide-prevention hot-line would have been so useful to us while Paul was alive if only we had known that a place like Didi Hirsch existed.

The Didi Hirsch website says:

“With over 70 years of experience Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services provides mental health and substance abuse services to those in need, regardless of ability to pay. Our 11 sites serve more than 74,000 clients a year throughout Southern California – from Pacoima to South Los Angeles, Downtown LA to Santa Ana and many points in between. We offer a wide range of services, including crisis intervention and stabilization, counseling, residential treatment, case management, youth-at-risk and family reinforcement programs, delinquency prevention programs, substance abuse treatment and prevention, and extensive community outreach. We also operate the only free, accredited, 24-hour, seven-days-a-week, suicide prevention crisis line from Orange County to Santa Barbara.

“Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services has been providing quality mental health and substance abuse treatment in Southern California since 1942. With 11 centers throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties, the agency serves more than 70,000 individuals a year and provides a variety of services, including:

  • A 24-hour suicide crisis line
  • Counseling for families that find themselves in emotional trouble
  • Help for individuals with serious psychiatric conditions
  • Substance abuse and prevention counseling for teenagers and adults
  • Community outreach for people affected by a traumatic event
  • Training programs for M.A., M.S.W., M.F.T. and Ph.D./Psy.D. candidates

“To inquire about our services, please call (310) 390-8896 between Monday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  For more information about our specific programs, please choose from the following: Services for Adults, Services for Children and Families, Emergency Services, Substance Abuse Services.”

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