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"It's OK To Ask For Help"
Rock For Life Concert
Through the Yellow Ribbon Program we hope that we can stop the epidemic that we are experiencing in Monmouth County, statewide and beyond. We need to educate people. We teach our children many life skills. - Scott Fritz, New Jersey Chapter of Yellow Ribbon International®
by Jennifer L. Pricci
ļ»æ [Chorus and Verse] L.I.V.E. - Rock for Life Concert
Jody Joseph and the Average Joes
Jody Joseph and the Average Joes headline the L.I.V.E. - Rock For Life Concert to benefit the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention ProgramĀ®

Each year in the United States, approximately two million teenagers attempt suicide and almost 700,000 receive medical attention for their attempt (AACAP, 2001). In 2001, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 2.6% of adolescents reported making a suicide attempt that had to be treated by a doctor or nurse. It is estimated that each year in the U.S., approximately 2,000 youth aged 10ā€"19 complete suicide. In 2000, suicide was the third-leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 24 years of age, following unintentional injuries and homicide (CDC Wonder).

Because suicide is still considered by many a taboo subject, exact updated statistics are difficult to obtain. We do know, however, that schools nationwide are dealing with attempters, and a great many of them may face the grim reality of suicide sooner or later. The 52 school districts of Monmouth County were forced to deal with teen suicide eight times in the past 16 months, compared to one in the four years proceeding that. Clearly, close to home, the suicide epidemic is worsening.

There are few events in the life of a family, school or community that are more painful or potentially disruptive than the suicide of a teen. Prevention programs have been organized around the globe to deal with the devastating reality of teen suicide. One of these, Yellow Ribbon InternationalĀ®, is taking steps to get their Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention ProgramĀ® placed in school curriculum. Met with resistance from most school boards and administrators, Yellow Ribbon InternationalĀ® has taken their pitch to the kids and the community directly hoping that through education and increased awareness the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention ProgramĀ® can inundate schools through their back door.

Jody Joseph, a popular New Jersey music instructor and front person for the well-known shore act Jody Joseph & The Average Joes, has teamed up with Scott Fritz, head of the recently-formed New Jersey Chapter of Yellow Ribbon InternationalĀ®, to announce the L.I.V.E. - Rock For Life Concert to benefit directly the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention ProgramĀ® (www.yellowribbon.org).

The L.I.V.E. - Rock For Life Concert is the vision of Joseph, who felt compelled to spread the word about teenage suicide prevention after the loss of one of her students, Stephanie Fritz, at the age of 15. Shortly after her passing, Jody approached Stephanie's father, Scott Fritz, with the concept of a benefit concert. Fritz was receptive to her idea and the L.I.V.E. concept (an acronym created by Joseph's teenage daughter; Live Inspire Vibe Energy) was born.

"I guess I never wanted to lose someone else again that way," says Joseph. "I felt so helpless. But not any more. Steph wouldn't want me to. So, I took all the pain and put it to use. The energy is amazing and, somehow, I believe that her tragedy will not be in vain. Somewhere along the way of this crazy journey, it will become a saving grace."

This will be the first such event for Scott Fritz and the local chapter of Yellow Ribbon InternationalĀ®.

ā€œMy responsibilities, as well as my partner Don Quigley, are to get the Yellow Ribbon program in as many schools and teen organizations as we can,ā€ says Fritz. ā€œWe need to educate kids that it is okay to ask for help. We need to educate people as to what to do if someone asks for help.ā€

Yellow Ribbon InternationalĀ® is an outreach program of The Light For Life Foundation InternationalĀ®. The Light For Life Foundation InternationalĀ® began in September of 1994 after the suicide of 17 year-old Mike Emme. In the days following Mikeā€™s death, dozens of teenagers approached Mikeā€™s family asking what they could do. Mikeā€™s parents responded by saying, "Donā€™t commit suicide. Reach out to someone and ask for help."

The teens took notes. "Itā€™s okay to ask for help," they wrote. As the teens shared their grief and their stories of friendship with Mike, they also discussed tragedy of teen suicide and ways in which it might be prevented. To honor his memory, teens wore yellow ribbons as accessories, a nod to Mikeā€™s prized yellow mustang.

Yellow Ribbon Card (Front and Back)
Yellow Ribbon Card (Front and Back)

"Itā€™s okay to ask 4 help"Ā® became the common theme and the yellow ribbon card was born. The cards feature a yellow ribbon and carry the message that there are people who care and who will listen to you when you need help. The other side of the card states that presenting the card is a cry for help. It features a suicide hotline and instructions on what to do to help in case a person gives you the card.

The Yellow Ribbon Program is more than a card. The multifaceted program is affiliated with respected mental health and suicide prevention experts. It offers youth and adult seminars, workshops and presentations that teach awareness and strategies to empower youth and adults.

ā€œThrough the Yellow Ribbon Program we hope that we can stop the epidemic that we are experiencing in Monmouth County, statewide and beyond. We need to educate people. We teach our children many life skills. Ask any child of school age what to do if they are on fire and they will tell you to ā€˜stop, drop and roll.ā€™ But because suicide is still thought of as a taboo subject, kids are never taught that ā€˜Itā€˜s okay to ask 4 helpā€˜Ā®, and their friends aren't told that if someone is talking about taking their lives that they need to stay with that person unless it isn't safe to stay with them, and then get the person to a trusted adult,ā€ says Fritz.

The L.I.V.E. (pronunciation: 'liv) - Rock For Life Concert will feature performances by Jody Joseph & The Average Joes, and many of Joseph's youngest and most talented music students from Monmouth and neighboring New Jersey Counties.

ā€œThe line-up is a very colorful one. My youngest performer is five years old and my oldest is 43. Every one of them have something unique to bring to the stage. Some of these students will be playing a guitar while singing. A couple of students are working [on] songwriting technique so they will be performing an original song that I co-wrote with them. My very-supportive band will be accompanying most of my students, as well as performing with me for a handful of my original songs.ā€

ā€œI think that my (youngest students) are somewhat aware of the cause by myself and their parents. I'm referring to the kids 10 and under but also, unfortunately, some have been directly and indirectly affected by teenage suicide. With all the visual freedom with television and cable I think that a dawning of awareness is an important factor for young children today.ā€

ā€œItā€™s amazing how many people wanted to help,ā€ adds Joseph. ā€œFrom my students, to their parents, my band, and other musicians.ā€

Matt O'Ree
Matt O'Ree Performs at L.I.V.E. - Rock For Life Concert at The Stone Pony

Joining the effort is blues/rock guitarist and fellow music instructor Matt O'Ree with the Matt Oā€™Ree Band accompanying him and his music students.

ā€œI was honored when Jody asked me to participate in the L.I.V.E. event,ā€ says Oā€™Ree. ā€œ(My students) are really excited to do this show for a number of reasons. Some of them knew or went to school with one of the victims so they feel even more compelled to be a part of the event. I hope that through the music and the awareness we can help save a life down the line.ā€

Local singer/songwriter Dawne Allynne will be opening the show.

ā€œIt is my hope that my participation in the L.I.V.E. benefit allows me to use my skills as a singer/songwriter, my experience as a mother and my concerns as a citizen in this community to help Jody Joseph, Matt Oā€™Ree, Scott Fritz and the many others involved in this event to carry their message to the teenagers, the parents and all the people of Monmouth County and beyond," said Allynne.

Invitations to perform have also been extended to some of Monmouth Countyā€™s most famous musicians.

Proceeds from ticket sales, merchandise and an open auction featuring valuable music memorabilia such as a Jon Bon Jovi autographed guitar, a Kenny Olson autographed guitar, concert tickets, donations from local retailers and gift certificates to some of the countyā€™s most popular restaurants, clubs and spas will be donated to the New Jersey chapter of Yellow Ribbon InternationalĀ®. The Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention ProgramĀ® is not funded by federal dollars or large corporations. Donations come from supporters in communities and go directly to program efforts.

"We are grateful and appreciative that people want to get involved with the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention ProgramĀ® to inform teenagers that itā€™s ok to seek help. Stephanieā€™s memory lives on if we can help prevent even one more teen suicide," says Fritz. "We hope that with the success of L.I.V.E. we can turn this into an annual event and take it nationally."

The internationally-implemented Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program Ā® has received more than 30,000 letters from youth that have considered or attempted suicide. The letters contain similar messages, such as "Iā€™m glad to know that youā€™re there and help is available," and "Just having the card makes me feel safer."

ā€œSuicide is a devastating tragedy for the family of the person who completes suicide, for the friends, school, and community. And, it can happen to any family. We never thought it was going to happen to ours,ā€ laments Fritz. ā€œEducation is a key. So is love. I don't think we can stop all suicides, but we can certainly keep a lot of them from happening, I have been told three kids have been helped in (Monmouth) County already, and the education is just starting.ā€

To date, the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention ProgramĀ® has saved an estimated 2500 lives worldwide.

The L.I.V.E. - Rock For Life Concert will take place on Saturday, January 29, 2005 at the Stone Pony, 913 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, New Jersey, 732-502-0600 at 6:00 PM. Tickets are $15 and are now available at www.ticketmaster.com and the Stone Pony box office. Tickets for this event are expected to sell out, please reserve you tickets in advance.

LFLF Int'l / YRSPP is a IRS registered not-for-profit 501 (C)(3) organization #84-1304474.

DONATIONS IN U.S. FUNDS CAN BE MAILED TO:
Yellow Ribbon International
P.O. Box 644
Westminster, CO 80036-0644
Office: 303.429.3530
Fax: 303.426.4496

Checks Should Be Made Payable To YELLOW RIBBON INTERNATIONAL.
Please Mark Your Donation "NEW JERSEY" to reach this chapter.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
L.I.V.E. - Rock For Life Concert: www.iemarketing.com/LIVE
Yellow Ribbon InternationalĀ®: www.yellowribbon.org
Jody Joseph And The Average Joes: www.jodyjoseph.net
Matt Oā€™Ree: www.mattoree.com

PRESS CONTACT:
Phantom Power Productions
Jennifer L. Pricci
732-291-4JEN
Jen@PhantomPowerProductions.com
www.PhantomPowerProductions.com

REFERENCES:

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Facts for Families #10: Teen Suicide, http://www.aacap.org/publications/factsfam/suicide.htm

National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (2001)

United States Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Office of Analysis and Epidemiology (OAE), Compressed Mortality File, (2000)

Jennifer L. Pricci is owner of Phantom Power Productions, a publicity, marketing and promotional firm that specializes in advancing the careers and projects of tri-state area independent musicians. Phantom Power Productions prides itself in performing low-cost services for quality artists.
©2005, Chorus and Verse
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