Music / Art / Creative Event closed off National Suicide Prevention Week!

(Sunday September 14, 2014)

It was an interesting and challenging experience, creating an event from scratch on a topic so controversial, a stigma and taboo.. Suicide Prevention.  I’ve never created such an event in this scale, from art, to poetry to music (and an almost comedy act), I am content that it was successful event, as it was in honor of a very close friend.

But it was not easy… not everyone was open to this idea.. I’ve felt a little humiliated, exposing a little bit of something personal to the public.. and some people were even offended by my idea of a suicide prevention event.  I never even mentioned to most people who have met my friend, what happened, and why she hasn’t been attending music/art events, karaoke, etc.  I wanted privacy for myself and others.

Thanks to those who came & supported this cause!! I appreciate it & also your generosity which exceeded expectations!

Zen bar’s goal wasn’t reached, but you supported them with a good few hundreds which covered some staffing AND they decided to give me a break & just charge me $50.

The Fund Bin raised.. $221!! So, I donated a generous $171 to TWLOHA.com from “Phuc N’Friends” in honor of my friend. I also didn’t subtract further of my own time/resources.. & that’s another gift to the cause to raise awareness & help save lives!

I’m waiting for a receipt or link to share, if it is emailed.

I also want to ESPECIALLY thank all the participants: Angela Pinney, Brett Kelley, Michelle, Mike Greca, William Greer, Oskar M who made the night of creativity for everyone!! Though he couldn’t make it b/c he wasn’t well, I also want to thank Kyle Hurley, for prepping hard for his comedy act, music, & the song I was going to sing.

Photos & summary will be posted soon!
Please continue to change lives & the world!!

Luv,
Phuc

(youtube playlist)

To explain how I came up with this idea, and why now??… We have to go back to the whole Robbins Williams tragic incident just last month in August.    I was incredibly shocked that the legendary funny man, who made so many people laugh, was deeply suffering inside so much to end his own life… just as September Suicide Prevention Month was approaching. I was disheartened, searched for answers, and possible foul play.

The radio was flooded with the news, every morning, intensely discussing William’s depression. Headlines all over the internet.  I couldn’t escape it. People were talking about it in the office, on the streets, and it was the most I’ve heard on public discussions on mental illness.  I knew I wanted to create an event some day, but I didn’t think it would be this soon… I wasn’t sure if I was ready to… but since everyone is talking about it now,  I felt now was the time.  For once, the consensus was not labeling someone like Robin Williams a freak  and I could only hope that no one else would have a negative perception on my friend or her friends, for being friends with her, and struggling themselves.

I was already battling 2 years trying to come to terms with what happened with the close friend of mine.  I have been battling a deep hole, emptiness & sadness in my heart, guilt, and am 99% sure I could’ve prevented this.  Any memory, any words, any song, anything, could just set me off.  The dreams that it was just a nightmare, and that I’d wake up, and that everything would be ok.  The beautiful, talented, creative, intelligent young woman, who had switched her major in order to pursue a web/tech career like mine.

Pink is her favorite color, and so that was the theme of the untouched photo I took years back, which I also had printed on a mount for this occasion.  Thus I wore an elegant pink dress, just for her.  I wanted everything to be perfect for her.

Good evening everyone!  I’d like to thank everyone for coming here and supporting this very important cause on suicide prevention.  I’m Phuc.. that’s P-H-U-C I will be your host for the night.

This is my 1st time creating any event like this, and public speaking… out in public…  Don’t mind me.. I have my cheat sheet here…

Honestly THIS scares the poo out of me……. Which is why I am wearing these sunglasses at night…..  It makes me a little less nervous.  There’s this added layer of plastic protection between you an me… that I could hide behind…….

Um Anyways, as you may have read on the event page,

- National Suicide Prevention week started last week on the 8th.
- World Suicide Prevention Day was on the 10th
- Today, September 14th, is the last day of the National Suicide prevention week.

Regardless, I hope by the end of the night, you will have some enlightenment on this issue that affects all of us. I hope after this event, you will continue your journey on life, no matter the obstacles, no matter the challenges.. You will utilize your life to positively changing the lives of others…

Although we may be expressing ourselves, through our darkest moment, through art, poetry, and music throughout the night… This event is not meant to be a depressing event, but an event of hope.  We express ourselves through creativity as an outlet, sometimes an escape…… sometimes therapeutic.

- I will be giving facts and there will be brief sharing of experiences throughout the event.
- If you feel like you need to, feel free to step outside  to the patio.. if you need a moment of some fresh air.

It’s been a very long 2 years that my beautiful friend, is no longer with us, ironically right before suicide prevention week. Last week was the anniversary, in which we beautifully celebrated her life.  I had the honor to reunite with her family & friends and also meet new friends that she cherished so dearly.

My friend is intelligent, strong woman. She was studying web & IT in hopes to follow a same career path as mine. She self taught herself how to paint and how to make nifty jewelry.  She supported local artists, and musicians, and also participated in music & art shows as well.

So it is an honor to share today and such an event with other artists, something that she would’ve take part in.  In fact, she came, to this very same venue to see local shows, like On the Ride Home, Vespera, Electric Shoes, and one of her very favorites… Prospect Hill…. which by the way, as a talented Pool player who played pool in tournaments, she beat Edgar, the bass player of Prospect Hill.   She sat at that bar over there and, the at lounge some of you are sitting at.

So I thank you for sharing this important event with me.  Thank you to Giancarlo owner of Zen Bar who specially opened for us. “

Music from local bands Novus Dae and Civil Drone was playing in the background earlier in the night, which I accredited to them (thanking them to allow me to play their music at the event).   I gave high regards in a few paragraphs to Novus Dae, as their shows along with other local bands were something to look forward to during tough times.

Oskar M. started off the night with some acoustics, and some stories behind the songs, in which people gathered around.  Music ranging from darkness to love of a woman.

 

It was very lovely to see many familiar faces from various meetup groups, and new faces in travel communities, I was in as well.  Quite a few people who didn’t rsvp showed, including my best friend & her family, which was very ecstatic about, not seeing them for a few years.

I worked so hard promoting, using my own time/resources.  Participants helped too.  I created a fund bin, strategically surrounded by Asian goodies, to fund any event costs (e.g. venue, bartender, chef, etc), and to donate the remains to TWLOHA.com

So I want to thank Lindsay Grassi Bukowinski  from CTNow.com  who approved this event to the largest official event listing in CT. CTNow.com is affiliated with the WCCT Tv and other news networks….as well as Hartford Courant, and Hartford Advocate, New Haven Advocate and Fairfield weekly,  which merged recently.   Lindsay fully supports this event and cause.

But honestly, overall, it was very tough promoting this event…  I embarrassed myself.. I humiliated myself, briefly mentioning my story on my web page I made for this event… presenting this sensitive topic.. this taboo… this stigma… even though no one should really feel this way.

Not all organizers were open or comfortable with this idea Or posting such event.. Even worse  a member from a group that I co-organize.. was highly offended by my event… Sooo offended, she asked to be removed from the group.  She didn’t want to have to explain to her grandkids what suicide prevention is….  Which is a shame.  If there is a day that her grandkids are crying for her help, it can be difference between saving a life or not.

I respect the fact that some people may not be ready to be part of such a cause.. But to be angry or offended by the cause and purpose itself… my mind cannot  process.  “

And….. Now I’m going to read you some facts from suicide.org

  • Over one million people die by suicide worldwide each year.
  • The global suicide rate is 16 per 100,000 population.
  • On average, one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds somewhere in the world.
  • Global suicide rates have increased 60% in the past 45 years.

According to the Center of Disease Control & Prevention
www.cdc.gov

As of 2012, every 40 seconds, an American attempts suicide…. and every 25 suicide attempts, 1 completes it.  So as we speak… That is about 1 death by suicide about every 15 minutes.

That is very startling.  It’s more common than you think.  It’s likely that at least one person you know in your social network, has had thoughts of suicide or attempted suicide in their life before. If you think you don’t, it’s possible that they just don’t normally talk about it, either because it’s awkward for them or because it’s a taboo or stigma.  I want to take that stigma away.

Honestly,  I can’t count how many people I know, who has had thoughts of suicide, or has attempted… even attempted more than once.

I’m not a professional.  So if you feel hopeless, or have suicidal thoughts.. please speak to a counselor or professional……. In an event of emergency, please call the

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  ::  1.800.273.TALK (273-8255)
TheNational Hopeline Network  ::  1.800.SUICIDE (784-2433)”

I then read the latest poem I wrote a few months before I even thought of planning event.

“Like Yesterday” by Phuc

Something ain’t right in here.
Where did she disappear?
She was just 24.
But the world weighed her down and she felt so old.

Are are you listening
to what’s happening?
The weight was on her shoulder.
Wise beyond her years, and she felt so cold and

Too young when she ran away.
Friends did nothing but betray.
Just when they gained her trust
all her hopes just turned to dust.

The day you left
was a mess. Pain everyday.
It’ll never be the same.
You tore our whole world a part.

The day you left
it still feels just like yesterday
When you went away
and ripped a hole in our hearts.

No, something’s wrong
Maybe we knew along
How did she end up here?
How would we know that the end was near?

She just wanted love.
No, to them it wasn’t enough
She just gave her all
But they just kept taking & watching her fall.

Counting down the days
The dark clouds would fade.
She found a final solution
to exit out of this institution.

The day you left
was a mess. Pain everyday.
It’ll never be the same.
You tore our whole world a part.

The day you left
it still feels just like yesterday
When you went away
and ripped a hole in our hearts.

Can’t we just turn back time?
I will get you out of here.
Erase the past.
You don’t have to live like this.

It’s not right
To give up without a fight.
If only I saved you
Pulled you from the ledge
But I never got to say good bye

I want to hold you
Shield the pain from you
Can’t believe you gave up on
life…

The day you left
was a mess. Pain everyday.
It’ll never be the same.
You tore our whole world a part.

The day you left
it still feels just like yesterday
When you went away
and ripped a hole in our hearts.

Unthinkable..
Unbearable..

Feels just like yesterday…

Angela PInney, who had brought her lovely artwork, and hand crafted jewelry,then took the stage with her poem.  She then talked about her experience on the subject of suicide, as she was a good friend of our friend too, and gave words of hope.

Mike Greca, then took the stage with some acoustics.  Some songs about awkward situations, and love as well.

Now I’m going to read you some suicide warning signs from save.org. I’m going to try to make it as quick and painless as possible… But Perhaps you can save a life and prevent suicide before it happens.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Giving things away, such as prized possessions.

Again, I’m not a professional.  You can refer to
National Hopeline Network  ::  1.800.SUICIDE (784-2433)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  ::  1.800.273.TALK (273-8255)

If your family or friend is going through loss from a suicide..
Here are some things from  supportaftersuicide.org.au   that they need

  • to be really listened to, heard and understood
  • non judgemental support
  • an opportunity to tell the story over and over again
  • a safe and supportive environment
  • to be able to express their grief in their own way
  • to have no time limits imposed

What not to say…

  • try not to say ‘committed’ suicide. It may bring back bad memories.. and people find it distressing. You can say.. “took their life”
  • do not use clichés like  ‘time will heal’,’you have other children’, ‘you’ll get married again’ or ‘I know how you feel.’ While well-intentioned, they rarely comfort and can leave the bereaved person feeling misunderstood and more isolated
  • don’t change or avoid the subject of suicide. This can create a barrier making it hard for them to discuss later

And from personal experience… What not to do…

  • Don’t say “Get over it”
  • Don’t say That was an x amount of time ago… Again, healing has no time frame.. some people feel pain decades later.
  • Don’t say “It could be worst… there are starving children in 3rd world countries that are dying every day.”   Don’t compare, Everyone is suffering differently… and everyone feels the pain.
  • Don’t make jokes about it.
  • Don’t change the subject or compare yourself… I understand it’s awkward and uncomfortable.. but I’m sure it’s pretty uncomfortable to experience it yourself.  If it really does set you off, just let them know you care and it’s difficult to hear too.

So those are just some tips.   For more check out  supportaftersuicide.org.au

————

I know life can be challenging sometimes. I understand daily obstacles.. believe me, I understand struggle and pain.  

If you know someone who has attempted suicide, or lost someone to it.. do understand that suicide is not a selfish act. It’s not meant to intentionally hurt friends, family, or you.. They’re not even thinking about that.. They’re thinking about ending their pain.. and they feel that they cannot live with the pain.. That the End is their only way out…

It’s not a selfish act because, they’re thinking that their loved ones… like YOU… are the stronger one, who will get over the loss, even though, in reality maybe some of us will never get over it.  Again, there’s no time limit to say.. I will heal at x amount of months, years, etc.

When my friend ended her life, it was honestly one of the worst days of my life.  On top of everything else.. Life was never the same after that.. It still hurts terribly today.

So if you’re thinking of ending it.  Think about how heartbroken everyone who loves you will be..  If that’s enough…If you feel you don’t owe it to your family and friends to live, OWE IT TO YOURSELF.  Make your mark in this world… try shape it to what you want it to be.

Well I hope you received some enlightenment out of this event so far.. and again, continue on this journey called life. “

The talented Brett Kelly who had been working hard on the live art, to be auctioned for this cause… shared some poetry…in which the audience was very eager about.

Brett then took charge of the most entertaining and invigorating art auction like a pro..

Auction was generously won by William Greer of Secret Staircase.

“Now I have a rock song for you, which some of you may be familiar with.    Oskar M. will be playing the instrumentals for this.  I’m not a performer.. just a karaoker…

Not sure if you know this song.. It’s a cover of Three Days Grace’s – Never Too Late.  It’s a very important song to me.  This is dedicated to my friend and to all those struggling… “

This world will never be
What I expected
And if I don’t belong
Who would have guessed it
I will not leave alone
Everything that I own
To make you feel like it’s not too late
It’s never too late

Even if I say
It’ll be alright
Still I hear you say
You want to end your life

Now and again we try
To just stay alive
Maybe we’ll turn it all around
‘Cause it’s not too late
It’s never too late

No one will ever see
This side reflected
And if there’s something wrong
Who would have guessed it
And I have left alone
Everything that I own
To make you feel like
It’s not too late
It’s never too late

Even if I say
It’ll be alright
Still I hear you say
You want to end your life
Now and again we try
To just stay alive
Maybe we’ll turn it all around
‘Cause it’s not too late
It’s never too late

The world we knew
Won’t come back
The time we’ve lost
Can’t get back
The life we had
Won’t be ours again!!

This world will never be
What I expected
And if I don’t belong…

Even if I say
It’ll be alright
Still I hear you say
You want to end your life

Now and again we try
To just stay alive
Maybe we’ll turn it all around
‘Cause it’s not too late
It’s never too late

Maybe we’ll turn it all around
‘Cause it’s not too late
It’s never too late (It’s never too late)
It’s not too late
It’s never too late…

My voice was shot from recovering from the heat for over a week, and it’s not easy for me to memorize lyrics and sing along to instrumentals, but after tons of practice, I pulled through.

I had also prepped for a cover by Third Eye Blind, “Jumper” with the talented Kyle on instruments and back up vocal.. (Because I’m somewhat instrumentally challenged….), but unfortunately he was from feeling ill too.

I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend
You could cut ties with all the lies That you’ve been living in
And if you do not want to see me again
I would understand, I would understand…

The angry boy a bit too insane Icing over a secret pain
You know you don’t belong
You’re the first to fight
You’re way too loud
You’re the flash of light on a burial shroud
I know something’s wrong
Well everyone I know has got a reason
To say put the past away …

I wish you would step back From that ledge my friend
You could cut ties with all the lies That you’ve been living in
And if you do not want to see me again..
I would understand, I would understand …

Well he’s on the table and he’s gone to code
And I do not think anyone knows
What they’re doing here
And your friends have left you
You’ve been dismissed
I never thought it would come to this
And I, I want you to know
Everyone’s got to face down the demons
Maybe today …
You could put the past away

I wish you would step back from That ledge my friend
You could cut ties with all the lies That you’ve been living in
And if you do not want to see me again
I would understand, I would understand, I would understand…

Can you put the past away?!!!
I wish you would step back from That ledge my friend !
I will understand!
I wish you would step back from That ledge my friend !
I will understand, I would understand, I would understand…

Silent Staircase, then finished off the night with some dark rock/pop that caught attention to audience.

The appreciation people expressed to me in regards to this event was highly overwhelming.  I wanted to make an impact, wondering… Who would actually care??  Who would actually give a shiz?

It was not easy… there quite few participants who were enthusiastic/interested in being a musician/band/venue there, and I made sure to point out, as a web developer, social media strategist that I would do some shameless promotion and photography for them… But for whtever reason a chunk fell through, went M.I.A in no response to updates.. and this event almost didn’t happen.   It was tough!!  Even when the creative line up schedule was filled, creative(s) asking last minute expressed their refusal to attend the event unless they were guaranteed a spot to perform.

I feared many had forgotten the purpose of the event and feared people would drop out like flies.. and almost resorted to filling up time with a highly awkward date auction!  But luckily did not have to auction myself  (thanks Brett & everyone)!

I didn’t know what to expect that day.. I was incredibly nervous, my heart was pumping, knots in my stomach, I was restless for days, and almost called it quits, especially in the midst of being in bed for days and prepping with my lost voice.  But I’m certainly glad I pulled through.. and found that there is still some hope towards humanity…  Participants sang/read poetry from the heart.  People there actually cared!


Thank you.

More Photos

:MUSIC / ART / CREATIVE LINE UP::

- Angela Pinney – Local artist (drawing & painting), jewelry maker, creative, poet

- Brett Kelley – Art Mercenary, poet, martial artist. His work is incredibly diverse/creative, sometimes ranging in tattoo designs.

https://www.facebook.com/BKArtMerc

After getting his BFA in Illustration from the Univ. Of Connecticut, Brett has been feverishly working on his craft, showcasing artwork at Craft Fairs, Art Galleries and Conventions across New England and beyond. He is currently working closely with Bruce Rosenbaum’s company ModVic.

- Oskar M. – An independent musician from the New England area who, after playing locally and regionally with a variety of musicians, is now taking the time to create music on his own terms. He creates music steeped in ’80s Gothic and Post Rock genres. Like a true 19th century Romantic, Oskar M.’s music draws from both emotional and intellectual sources examining the vast continent of the human condition.

- Secret Staircase is William Greer. He writes bedroom pop from his view atop a barstool. For fans of Pedro The Lion, Death Cab, Bright Eyes, Iron and Wine, etc.

https://www.facebook.com/secretstaircase

- Mike Greca – Involved in music for years, and has a love for both, piano and guitar, along with experience in songwriting that began back in his college days. Shortly after college, Mike traveled to Nashville for six months and immersed himself in studying the art of lyric-writing. He’s seen playing at coffeeshops & bars in CT.

- Kyle – Comedian, Musician, Superhero. Is seen at bars, presenting humorous Stand up comedian act, and also has a talent with singing, guitars & ukelele!

http://www.twitter.com/HurleyBurger87

Chelle Lemieux – Artist

http://www.facebook.com/mwickhamart

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