ITHACA, N.Y. — The Sophie Fund was recognized by the New York State Office of Mental Health for its “profound suicide prevention efforts” in the community.

The Sophie Fund is a not-for-profit in Tompkins County that focuses on suicide prevention efforts. Notably, the organization has helped organize local mental health stakeholders to adopt the Watershed Declaration, calling for greater suicide prevention efforts in Tompkins County. It has also urged colleges, hospitals and mental health clinics in Tompkins County to adopt the Zero Suicide Model.

The Sophie Fund was nominated for the “Journey of Healing” award by the Tompkins County Mental Health Department and the Ithaca Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service.

“The Sophie Fund is a beautiful example of how a tragic loss can transform a community. Scott and Susan took their painful loss and channeled it into a passion to save lives in Tompkins County,” New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Marie T. Sullivan said in a news release. “We thank Scott, Susan and everyone involved in The Sophie Fund for their hard work and commitment to suicide prevention.”

The Sophie Fund was established by Scott MacLeod and Susan Hack after the death by suicide of their 23-year-old daughter, Sophie, in 2016. The fund was established to “advocate for mental health initiatives, policies, programs and projects, especially for young people.”

In accepting the award Sept. 18, MacLeod and Hack said in losing Sophie, they witnessed the “profound depths of mental illness and the immense tragedy of suicide” and by establishing The Sophie Fund, they resolved to do everything they could to not lose one more person to suicide in Ithaca and Tompkins County.

“In establishing The Sophie Fund in her memory, we resolved to do everything possible to support young people battling mental disorders. Suicide is preventable, and we also resolved to do everything we could so that we do not lose one more person, young or old, to suicide in Sophie’s adopted Ithaca–Tompkins County community. We sincerely thank the countless people who have made The Sophie Fund’s work a reality—our supporters and partners in the Tompkins County community including the Cornell University and Ithaca College campuses; and friends, family, and others in the greater Ithaca area and far beyond who provided constant encouragement, practical advice, material support, financial donations, and innumerable kindnesses. Finally, we extend our gratitude to the New York Suicide Prevention Office for its relentless efforts in Tompkins County and throughout the state,” MacLeod and Hack said.

One of The Sophie Fund’s events is coming up soon. The third annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest will take place on Oct. 13. The contest helps support mental health initiatives aiding young people in Tompkins County.

Contestants of all ages are invited to enter, and the contest is open to amateur bakers only. There will be dozens of prizes, including a grand prize of $250. The winner of this year’s Special Youth Award for children 18 and under, will receive a $100 gift certificate redeemable at dozens of Downtown Ithaca shops. To enter, contestants are asked to bring their submissions to the Bernie Milton Pavilion on the Ithaca Commons from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Oct. 13. The winners will be announced at 3 p.m.

Along with the contest, The Sophie Fund is again organizing a “Cupcake Button” fundraising campaign that will benefit the Mental Health Association in Tompkins County. Last year’s campaign raised $829.50 for Ithaca’s Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service.

To learn more about The Sophie Fund and for more information about the cupcake contest, visit The Sophie Fund’s website.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.