Suicide Awareness Voices of Education – SAVE – Rise Above Fest Interview

Maine Music News interviewed Daniel J. Reidenberg, PSY.D., FAPA
Executive Director of SAVE, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, at the Rise Above Fest Pre-Party held May 8th at Sea Dog Brewing Company, with the help of Waterfront Concerts.  We wanted to follow up on comments Reidenberg made in the article, “Preventing Suicide with Music,” by Lisa Martineau, New Hampshire.com.  We thank him for his time and his information.

Maine Music News:  In the article by Lisa Martineau, you are quoted as saying that Rise Above Fest is “the biggest way we generate revenue.”   Please tell us more about this.

Reidenberg  – This is the largest fundraiser that we have every year, but it is also the largest and most impactful way we get our message out about suicide and suicide prevention.  This is the best opportunity that we have, in all the things we do all over the world, to be able to one time say that you don’t have to be afraid of the word suicide; that if you are in trouble, you can get help; that there are actually things you can do to get people through this.  People can actually rise above these challenges, but they don’t know that until they experience something like this.  So, yes, this is our largest fundraiser, our one-time fundraiser, that we have, but there are many other great things that happen out of this than just the dollars.

This reduces stigma.  This goes and breaks down stigma because it makes it okay for people to come out and support something in ways that they can’t otherwise do.  You just send out something to someone and say fund suicide prevention, and they won’t do it.  I’ve been to companies and sat down with their executives and said this is really an important issue, and they’ll say we are never going to donate to your cause.  They are afraid of it.  This takes that fear out of it and makes it easy for people to say this is an important issue.  They look at somebody like Shaun and they look at the band Seether and they see that this band is actually trying to make a difference in the world.  And when it comes down to right here in Bangor and The Waterfront and the concert series, this is an opportunity for people to actually say, ‘hey, this is a big deal in our community.’

This brings people to the community. We have people from all over the country that are here for this event.  People are coming to Bangor to be part of this festival.

Yes, it raises money for us, but it takes away the stigma, the shame, and it is gives people the opportunity to help.  We also know that because we have thousands, tens of thousands, literally tens of thousands of people have commented on Facebook about this, that because this band is doing this they are getting help today.

MMN– Part of the population being helped are veterans.  In Martineau’s article, you spoke about a doctor from the Veteran’s Administration who said that “the Rise Above Fest, and the partnership with SAVE, could be the single biggest factor in suicide prevention to date.  The idea behind what the Rise Above Fest means and what it gives to people is huge.”  Please expand on that.

Reidenberg  -They’ve given away free tickets to veterans throughout the state of Maine.  There have been movie nights throughout the state for veterans and active duty military, and at those venues they have given away free tickets to come here and be part of this event.  There are also five veterans who have struggled with PTSD, with suicidal thoughts, who have been given a once in a lifetime opportunity to come here and experience the concert, meet the band, go backstage, and get autographed items.  These are people who love music, and for some of them, music has been their therapy.

MMN – We hear that from veterans a lot, that the music is therapy.

Reidenberg – I’ve worked with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and identified vets that really enjoy this music and look up to this band as inspirational, and we’ve made it possible for them to be here.  There is a whole veteran component to this as well.  This particular doctor, he had called and said the idea behind a concert this big, spreading a message that suicide can be prevented, is the biggest thing that has happened to our field.  I sit on all the national panels, I’m an international expert in suicide, we have released a national strategy for suicide, we have the first ever research agenda for suicide, I work with all the social media companies, and to think that some people value the message that this concert brings to the world, to say that it is the biggest thing that the field has done?  That is amazing.

Maine Music News would like to add that after we stopped recording, Reidenberg went on to tell us more about veterans.  Suicide is not confined to younger military members who served in the recent war zones.  No.  In fact, older veterans, seniors, are attempting and committing suicide at alarming rates.  The statistics listed on at www.save.org are:

The highest increase in suicide is in males 50+ (30 per 100,000). (CDC)

Suicide rates for females are highest among those aged 45-54 (9 per 100,000). (CDC)

Suicide rates for males are highest among those aged 75+ (36 per 100,000). (CDC)

 

Thank you, Dr. Reidenberg.

About the author

Ann James Joles

Website

You’ll know her when you see her – Ann is probably the only person at a live show scribbling down notes and guarding a camera case. With a long time career in higher education behind her, she is more at home at a rock show with screaming fans than in an office.