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For Immediate Release
September 8, 2004

Contact:  Bob Carolla

NAMI Convention Opens

U.S. Senator & Mrs. Gordon Smith To Be Honored for Leadership in
  Youth Suicide Prevention on Anniversary of Family Tragedy

Other Major Awards Announced

Washington, D.C.—
NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) opens its 25th Anniversary convention this week with a symposium on African Americans and mental illness, the deaf community and sessions focused on youth suicide prevention.

Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) and his wife, Sharon, whose son took his life exactly one year ago today after a long struggle with bipolar disorder, will address the convention on September 9th and receive an award for legislative leadership to support screening for depression in young people—for whom suicide is the third leading cause of death today.

The House of Representatives is expected to pass the Smith bill later today, clearing the way for signature soon by President Bush.

"Senator and Mrs. Smith have turned personal tragedy into positive public action," said NAMI executive director Michael Fitzpatrick. "They represent profiles of courage and determination born in pain and reflect NAMI’s own tradition of advocacy. Our members not only honor them—we embrace  and support them as part of the NAMI family."

The convention also will honor Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH); U.S. Representatives Grace Napolitano (D-CA) and Tim Murphy (R-PA), co-chairs of the House Mental Health Caucus; and Representative Ted Strickland, Ph.D. (D-OH) and his wife, Frances Strickland, Ph.D., who will jointly receive NAMI’s Outstanding Psychologist Award.

Other convention awards include:

Distinguished Service Award

Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton of Ohio’s Supreme Court will receive NAMI’s highest honor for leadership in promoting alternatives to incarceration for individuals with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system and serving as an advocate for humane treatment and better services.

Lionel Aldridge Award for Leadership, Courage & Service

Named in honor of former Super Bowl champion Lionel Aldridge, whose recovery from schizophrenia and homelessness inspired many consumers, this year’s award goes to William McPhee of Toronto, publisher of Schizophrenia Digest and bp magazine—a new publication focused on the interests and needs of persons with bipolar disorder, which is being launched at the convention.

Rona & Ken Purdy Award Against Stigma & Discrimination

This year’s honoree is Jean Singleton Liechty of California who established the "Silver Ribbon" as a national symbol against stigma and initiated a grassroots campaign for a first class "public awareness postage stamp" on mental illness. In 2004, the Silver Ribbon stamp proposal cleared its first official hurdle and is now being considered by the Postal Service.

Media Awards

Each year at its convention, NAMI announces Outstanding Media Awards to news organizations that have addressed topics involving mental illness with accuracy, balance and compassion. For 2004 they include:

  • Austin American-Statesman
  • Charleston) Post & Courier
  • PBS Television
  • Rocky Mountain News
  • San Bernadino Sun
  • St. Louis Post Dispatch
  • Scientific American

Click for more 2004 Convention coverage

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With more than 220,000 members and 1200 state and local affiliates, NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults with severe mental illnesses through research, education, advocacy and support.


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