Chris Gandin Le tackles one of the most fraught social problems facing us in modern times: the preponderance of suicide, especially among young people. He helped launch the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, as well as the Veterans Crisis Line and CrisisChat.org. He serves on the advisory board for Crisis Text Line, Connect Safely, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. And he has advised major social networks–Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, et al–on their suicide protocols.
In all of these efforts, as in his speaking, Chris takes a profoundly personal approach to large scale mental health issues. His mom fled Vietnam in 1978 when he was four months old, making him one of the first “boat people.” After a year in a refugee camp, they were sponsored by an American family to come to the U.S. Chris spends his life trying to provide the same kind of refuge that he felt in that moment, for others. He’s a credible breath of fresh air for a tech audience, given his collaborations with Facebook among others, but also brings unusual expertise to a mental health conference where few have done as much work online as he has. He’s also a hit with college students, who are aching for a relatable voice on the dark nights of the soul they inevitably face.
It's in listening to young people—the ones who are hurting, the ones who have tried to kill themselves, the kids who have lost friends—that we find new ideas.
A credit to his gender. A born leader.