With the theme “Stop Suicide”, Bhutanese artists organized an infotainment show in North Akron High School on Saturday, February 28, 2015.
The Menuka Memorial Foundation, a non-profit formed by singer Kishor Siwakoti in the memory of his mother Menuka, Druk Fusion Band, and International Institute of Akron, Rhythm Screen Creations among others have collaborated for the event.
A video with the message to stop suicide was also released with an aim to bring awareness on living a full span of life. “The video will be made public very soon,” said Amber Subba, composer and event coordinator Amber Subba. “We are giving a final touch to the production.”
The song in the released music video was jointly written and composed by Subba and two other singers, Kishor Siwakoti and Arjun Rasaily. It was arranged, recorded and mixed my Kamal Rai.
Menuka memorial foundation, a family foundation established in the memory of late Menuka Siwakoti by Kishor Siwakoti, is also formally announced by a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Dr. Terry Kuhn and Dr. Chhabilal Timsina, the guests of the program did the ribbon-cutting.
The welcome dance Lahana le juraayo ki solicited few whistles and hooting.
Among the distinguished speakers and experts were Dr. Chhabilal Timsina, the Bhutanese psychiatrist in Minnesota, Tim Kelly, program specialist on refugee health at ORR, Dr. Elina Shakya, PCP at Akron and community leaders Tika Acharya, Parangkush Subedi, Bishnu Subba. Goran Debelnogich, another mental health expert from ORR was also attended the event.
While Dr.Chhabilal Timsina suggested the ways to curb mental health problems, as aplied to different situations and to various age category, Tim Kelly updated on some programs at ORR designed to help the refugee community being aware of the mental health issues. He said, “mental health is the priority of ORR.” He also encouraged the gathering to apply for the self-help grant funded by ORR.
Tika Acharya informed about the programs of BCNH to collaborate with other community leaders to bring comprehensive plan of action to address the mental health problem.
Parangkush Subedi spoke on importance of having mental health first aid training to get first hand information on dealing with people facing mental health problems. He said, “ Music is just one component, but not everything to curb the issue. Partnership with experts and resettlement agencies and PCPs is very vital to get problems solved.”
A short skit depicting the court of Yamaraj for a person completing suicide gave the strong message “It is unworthy for a human being to complete suicide” in the event that garnered around 1000 artists, community volunteers and general people from across the United States.
Composer and vocalist Kishor Siwakoti, one member of organizing committee agrees, “It is just the beginning. We want to share the message through music and as artists we feel equal responsibility to find ways to address the issue.” He could not disclose the details of next level of the musical ‘project’ the artists have ventured on.
“The event was divided into parts. The second session of the show consisted of musical segments solely aimed at entertaining the audience,” according to Subba.
Meanwhile, the event organizers also thanked all the volunteers, artists, speakers and all who made the event successful. Sudan Rai and Bhola Siwakoti moderated the entire event.
A similar mental health training workshop was organized in Pittsburgh by BCAP, Bhutanese community association of Pittsburgh in collaboration with ORR and sate department of health, Pennsylvania. Fifty-one community volunteers attended the workshop that was basically focussed on building a volunteers network to work in unison for addressing the mental health issue.
‘This training has opened my eyes and I am committed in reaching out to the ones in need anytime. The training of this nature should be organized in other cities and states and efforts should be made by all of us to educate resettled Bhutanese people throughout the country’, said Prahlad Mishra, one of the community volunteers.
Editor’s note: Pictures used in the gallery are courtesy of Kashi Kadel through Suicide Prevention Project Event- AKRON, OHIO.