SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – The Psychiatry High Risk Program at Upstate Medical University received a generous $20,000 donation that will continue its mission to help prevent suicide.

Robert Helfrich of Baldwinsville lost his 19-year-old son Zach Helfrich to suicide three years ago in 2019.

His personal mission since his son’s unexpected death is to raise awareness about the realities of suicide and normalizing the conversation surrounding it.

Robert created the Zach Helfrich Memorial Fund, Inc., a 100% volunteer, charitable organization building suicide awareness.

An endowment was established in Zach’s name to support the Upstate Medical University’s Psychiatry High Risk Program that serves those between the ages of 14 to 40 who struggle with thoughts of suicide.

“We’re trying to build awareness and get it out there, talk about this so people realize that this is an issue.”


The director of the Psychiatry High Risk Program at Upstate says the $20,000 will be used to enhance patient programs.

“This money will really be able to allow us to treat more people, to expand services, and also continue the research that we’re doing on the program so that more areas of the country can actually know about it and start to implement it.”


Since 2017, Upstate’s PHRP program has grown 50% every year. In 2021, the program served more than 150 teens and adults struggling with suicidal thoughts and the director expects this year to be even more.

You can learn more about the Psychiatry High Risk Program at Upstate by clicking here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call or text the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing or texting 988.

  •  988 – Suicide, crisis, and counseling hotline 
  •  Text “Got5” to 741-741 for free confidential 24/7 support 
  •   National Suicide Prevention Hotline:  800-273-TALK 
  •   Dial 211 for help finding local referrals  

How to speak with your child(ren) about grief and suicide: 

Grief Support: 

Hope For Bereaved is a local organization that works with grieving teens, children, and adults. They offer grief support groups and free 1-on-1 counseling. Please contact (315) 475-9675 and/or visit their website at 

How to Help Yourself: