Stressing an importance in healing through art, people from Centre County and the surrounding area shared stories, songs or poems about their own issues with depression or about friends or family members lost to suicide.
“Healing isn’t something you do on your own,” Al Vicere, vice president of the Jana Marie Foundation, said. It needs to be done being surrounded with other people, he said.
Vicere lost his daughter, Jana Marie, to suicide slightly more than two years ago.
The Jana Marie Foundation created the event in partnership with Active Minds at Penn State and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention that included a candle-lighthing ceremony that was in union with many groups around the world on Suicide Prevention Day, Sept. 10, following the speakers.
“It’s a healing event,” John Wehler (senior-psycology) from Active Minds PSU said, mentioning that a lot of people at the event have gone through depression or have close friends or family who have.
Seveta Gallu, who declares herself as a “victim of depression,” shared poetry that she wrote about her struggles with mental health. It is a way to relieve depression, she said.
Musician and songwriter Zack Maser performed a song he wrote about struggling with depression. Two other speakers went on stage to discuss losing someone close to them from suicide.
There were posters citing suicide statistics and paintings expressing struggles with depression and suicide made by local artists.
Vicere said it gives him hope to see people rising up and speaking out.
Wehler said the Jana Marie Foundation approached Active Minds PSU, a mental health group on campus, and asked to partner with them.
Wehler said he was inspired to take part in the club because he went through anxiety and depression.
To help with healing, artist and Intentional Creativity Coach Misty Frederick-Ritz had the people in attendance create “medicine cards.”
They passed out blank cards and markers and had the attendees decorate and write positive words on them.
She said it was a way to get people to open up.
Marisa Vicere, founder of the Jana Marie Foundation and Jana Marie’s sister said the event is to raise awareness for suicide prevention and the group “works to empower young people through art and creative expression.”
One project being done by the foundation is the Stompers Project, which is a life-sized sculpture created from old sneakers.
“[The Stompers] represent stomping out the stigma that surrounds mental health,” Al Vicere said.
People who attended were also able to write their stories in marker on a white table cloth. Some also decorated paper bags that were set outside and placed around candles.
The event ended with Evelyn Wald and Holly Torbic lighting candles up on stage at 8 p.m. and Maser playing and singing “Lean on Me.”