Larry McCord has been a member of the Washington University in St. Louis community for over 30 years, first as an undergraduate majoring in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science and then as a graduate student, earning his Master’s degree in 1977. Following years of volunteer work coaching over 70 youth track teams and leading Boy Scouts, Larry launched a very successful, award-winning, nonprofit organization.
Larry founded CHADS Coalition for Mental Health in memory of his son Chad, who the world lost to suicide in 2004. Chad’s wish was to stand in front of an assembly at high school and say, “Hi, my name is Chad McCord and I suffer from depression.” Chad had said, “If I had cancer, students would rally around me and make posters and give me a hero’s welcome when I came back to school.” As Chad underwent his treatment, he vowed that after he got better, he wanted to make a difference in peoples’ lives by bringing mental illness out of the closet. In 2005, Larry and his wife, Marian, founded CHADS Coalition to be Chad’s voice. Its mission is to advance the knowledge and prevention of adolescent depression and suicide through awareness, education, family support and research.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents and young adults (ages 15-24), and each year in St. Louis, 30 of these youth commit suicide. CHADS is a beacon of hope that someday this number will decrease significantly and other families will not have to experience the same pain as Larry and his family. According to Larry’s nominators, his “selfless compassion for and dedication to families struggling with this issue is exemplary.”
Over 220 schools and community health organizations across Missouri and Southern Illinois are taking proactive measure against depression and suicide in children, thanks to efforts by CHADS Coalition through the tireless efforts of its staff and volunteers. CHADS has also raised over half a million dollars to fund five research projects, 18 summer fellowships and a senior investigator for five years. In Larry’s words, “When Chad died we had a choice to get bitter or get better. A child’s suicide will turn most families dysfunctional. Due mainly to Marian’s efforts, I am very proud to say we got better.”