BE THE VOICE #STOPSUICIDE
Fusion Fighters recently worked with 50 Irish dance students from studios throughout the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) and collaborated to create “Be the Voice”, a dance video and documentary raising mental health awareness and support for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP). A not-for-profit organization, AFSP is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, through education, community programs, research, and advocacy.
“This year I learned that one of my close friends had been struggling for years with severe depression and thoughts of suicide,” said Sophia Rankin, student of the McGrath Morgan Academy in Maryland/Virginia and event organizer. “My friend stayed silent out of shame and fear of rejection. I hope with ‘Be the Voice’ we can end the stigma and encourage people to talk about mental health, because it impacts all of us.”
In the 2017 Youth Risk Behaviors Survey, published by AFSP, 7.4 percent of youth in grades 9-12 reported that they had made at least one suicide attempt in the past 12 months, with female students attempting almost twice as often as males.
“The Fusion Fighters are thrilled to participate in the “Be the Voice” dance project to support AFSP,” said Fusion Fighters founder and “Be the Voice” artistic director Chris Naish. “Mental health awareness and suicide prevention are global issues that we’re truly passionate about. We hope that projects like ‘Be the Voice’ help everyone in our community feel safe talking about mental health, and most importantly, asking for assistance whenever they need it.”
AFSP’s community initiatives include “Out of the Darkness” walks, which began as a small grassroots movement in 2002. Since then communities across America have seized the opportunity to stand up for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, raising much needed funds for research, outreach, and advocacy. Participants wear “honor beads” in various colors representing their connection with the cause such as AFSP’s trademark royal blue; green to acknowledge a personal struggle with severe depression; teal in support of a family member’s or friend’s struggle; purple and silver to honor family members and friends, including military and first responders, lost to suicide. “I am proud of our dancers who chose shirts in the honor beads colors,” said Shawn Dongieux, McGrath Morgan Academy student and “Be the Voice” dancer. “Just like in the ‘Out of the Darkness’ walks, the colors helped the dancers connect instantly with others who have similar experiences, so they feel less alone. The “Be the Voice” project is important personally because I’ve struggled with depression and attempts of suicide several times. The struggles are real. If you see someone suffering, say something to help them. You never know the power of the voice.“
The “Be the Voice” dance video is the centerpiece of an online fundraising campaign to support AFSP’s life-saving efforts throughout the U.S. Donations and more information can be found online at https://afsp.donordrive.com/campaign/Fusion-Fighters--BeTheVoice-Campaign and www.fusionfightersdance.com, or by contacting AFSP Maryland Chapter Director Kat Olbrich (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Mental health awareness is everyone's business, because it affects all of us. So many in our community suffering from severe depression are afraid to reach out, for fear of being rejected and isolated. The @fusionfighters are proud to join with @mcma_irishdance @hurleyschool @districtirishdance to #BETHEVOICE ending the stigma for good, and getting help to those who need it. Please join our campaign supporting @AFSPnational, a leading nonprofit that promotes research and resources to #stopsuicide.
To support our fundraising campaign: https://tinyurl.com/syvnrhf
For more information about #outofthedarkness colors worn by our dancers and their meaning: https://tinyurl.com/uvbe49b