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Mountain Climber Leads Expedition of Hope for People Battling Depression


June 06, 2005

American Joe Lawson today has embarked on a journey to climb the world's highest peaks to focus global attention on the need for greater depression awareness, treatment and support. As a teenager, Lawson's father committed suicide after a long battle with depression. In honor of his memory he formed Expedition Hope™, with the goal of preventing similar tragedies.

"My father's illness left him feeling isolated and too ashamed to ask for help," said Lawson. "That's why I'm dedicating this effort to him. I want to focus attention on the stigma that keeps so many with mental illness from seeking the treatment they so desperately need."

Should Lawson reach the highest peak on each continent, he will join an elite group of climbers to have accomplished this feat - fewer than 100 worldwide. With the help of Eli Lilly and Company, his journey begins in North America with Alaska's Mt. McKinley (20,320 feet).

Lawson will chronicle his climb on the Web at , where people also can learn more about depression and how they can support programs that help those with mental illness.

"With mountain climbing, you have to overcome many obstacles in order to reach the final goal. Yet it can be done with the right training and assistance," said Lawson. "The same can be said for people with depression and those who care for them. With the help of a healthcare professional and a support network, relief is possible."

Lawson is an experienced mountain climber with previous involvement in the Discovery Channel Eco-Challenge adventure race events and several adventure travel companies.

Mt. McKinley, also known as Denali, is considered the most challenging of the Seven Summits after Mt. Everest, based on technical difficulty, physical hardship and altitude. After completing Mt. McKinley, Lawson will attempt to climb Mt. Aconcagua ( South America ), Mt. Kilimanjaro ( Africa ), Mt. Elbrus ( Europe ), Mt. Cartenz Pyramid ( Oceania ), Mt. Vinson Massif ( Antarctica ), and Mt. Everest ( Asia ).




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