Six teen suicides is six too many, says a 20-year-old Red Deer woman who’s planning a summer concert to raise money for local suicide awareness and prevention efforts.
Stacie Moore and her friend Jennifer Allbon are hosting an outdoor Rock the Change Concert at the Bower Ponds stage on Saturday, June 1, to draw attention to the need for more suicide-related discussion in the community.
So far, several young singer/songwriters from Red Deer have signed on to provide entertainment, including Garrett Olson, RJ Willms, Thomas Hutlet and Amy Metcalf. Organizers are also hoping to get some local bands and business sponsors interested in the event.
Moore peripherally knew two of the six students who killed themselves in Red Deer since last fall. She was also shaken to recently learn that one of her best friends had also attempted suicide.
Due to these “overwhelming” events, Moore said she and Allbon “were sitting around brainstorming about what we could do” when the fundraising concert idea came up. “We talked to my dad about it . . . and got excited,” said Moore, who believes the issue of suicide had been too little addressed while she was in school.
“I think it’s been ignored for too long. If you don’t talk about it, nobody thinks it’s a big thing,” she added — but the affect of somebody’s suicide on family and friends has lifelong repercussions.
“The more you talk about it, the more people know it’s OK to talk to an adult or professional and get help,” said Moore, who was already contacted by two people asking for suicide prevention information since word of the fundraiser began making the rounds on social media.
She believes opening a public dialogue helps remove the stigma around suicide and allows people to understand that “it’s OK to be sad once in a while” and seek help for depression.
Admission donations from the 6 to 9 p.m. all-ages fundraising concert and raffles will go towards Red Deer Suicide Information and Education Services, which been working in the community for more than two decades.
Executive director Laura MacNeill is glad that the two young women are taking an interest. “I think it’s amazing that our community is coming together and that youth have stepped up to say, ‘We want to talk about this.’ ”
MacNeill’s non-profit group, funded by Alberta Health Services, does not provide a crisis line, but does link people with counselling, information and other services.
“We’re providing helpful resources (to let) people know they are not alone. That’s how we can help those in distress.”
Money from the fundraiser will go towards more education and support programs.
The Alberta Health Services Mental Health Help Line is 1-877-303-2642.