$1.7+ Million Raised for Youth Suicide Prevention at the 2023 JED Gala

people sitting at tables in ballroom facing the stage where speakers are standing and a person is on a screen
Guests attending JED Gala 2023 at Cipriani Wall Street

The Jed Foundation (JED) raised over $1.7 million at the 2023 JED Gala, which brought together 750 esteemed guests at Cipriani Wall Street on June 7. 

Hosted by Lemonada Media Chief Creative Officer Stephanie Wittels Wachs, the event honored leaders in mental health advocacy while raising critical funds in support of JED’s mission to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for teens and young adults.

“There is hope on the other side of despair,” said Wachs, who co-founded Lemonada Media to amplify mental health stories after witnessing her brother’s struggle with substance use disorder. “That is why I am so, so passionate about the work that JED is doing.” 

Honoring Leaders in Mental Health

Selena Gomez—actress, singer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist—received the 2023 Voice of Mental Health Award for her work with the Rare Impact Fund, a nonprofit she founded to expand mental health resources and education to young people worldwide. 

“Every single young person deserves to know that they are more than good enough, that they mean something important to our world, and way too many aren’t getting that message,” said Gomez, whose own struggles with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder inspire her work on mental health.  “So my Rare Impact Fund and The Jed Foundation are working every single day to deliver the lifesaving tools, people, and messages that are reaching more and more students—with your help.” 

JED also recognized CVS Health with the Corporate Voice of Mental Health Award and the Huntsman Foundation with the Visionary Mental Health Award. Both organizations have committed themselves to expanding access to mental health care and eliminating the stigma that prevents young people from getting the help they need. 

“Mental health is lurking behind every single door. We all have our own story, and we can’t be afraid to get out there and share them,” said Christena Huntsman Durham, who accepted the award on behalf of the Huntsman Foundation alongside her brother, David Huntsman. “The only way to stop [suicide] is by all of us collectively linking arms together and moving forward as a team.” 

Amplifying Youth Voices 

High school junior Audrey Wang and rising college sophomore Jose Caballero saw firsthand the challenges their peers were facing and responded by dedicating themselves to youth mental health advocacy. JED acknowledged each of their outstanding achievements with Student Voice of Mental Health Awards. 

“I think it’s a life-changing opportunity. It doesn’t only recognize my work as a mental health advocate, but it also gives me a platform that amplifies my voice and my story so that it can inspire me to continue the work,” said Caballero, on receiving the award. 

To open the event, JED welcomed National Youth Poet Laureate of 2022-2023 Salome Agbaroji, who recited her poem “Cutting My Bangs” for the crowd. Later, guests were treated to a performance from the Young People’s Chorus of New York City

“Mental health is acknowledging the fact that it’s not just success or material gain or even just your physical health that matters,” said Agbaroji. “It’s understanding that when your mental health is low, everything else trickles into that negativity. Your mental health is your core.”

Looking Forward 

The JED Gala has now raised over $15 million to protect mental health in high schools and colleges across the nation. 

“Whether equipping young people with advice and resources to help them talk to a friend; strengthening mental health programs, policies, and systems at schools; or mobilizing community members to better support the teens and young adults in their lives,” said JED CEO John MacPhee, “we will be there to guide and help.”

The $1.7 million raised at this year’s event will help The Jed Foundation achieve its goal of expanding its reach to protect 13.2 million students throughout the United States by 2026.

Get Help Now

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text, call, or chat 988 for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7. 

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.