EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., – A festival seems like an unlikely atmosphere for hard topics like suicide and mental illness, however organizers of the fifth annual Sing Into the Sunlight Concert & Festival are hoping the free event will help raise awareness about these important issues. The festival is on Saturday, June 17 from 4-8 p.m. at Sesselman Park and Bandshell in East Rutherford, N.J.
“Mental illness and teen suicide are big problems in New Jersey and it’s important that we shine a light on these topics,” said Faith Banca, event organizer and co-founder. “People with suicidal thoughts are often afraid to talk about their feelings, and we hold this event to help remove the stigma so people who are suffering can get the help they need.”
The event will feature musical performances by alternative rock band TIAN, and rock and soul band GoodWorks, as well as various food vendors and merchants selling art, jewelry and handcrafted items for the home. In addition, the festival will have activities including arts and crafts, yoga, face painting, ultimate Frisbee tournaments, and more. Booths, handouts and speakers will inform attendees about suicide and mental illness.
Banca and co-founder Rebecca Cruz, both from East Rutherford, organized the first concert in 2013 when they were high school freshman to draw attention to the growing number of teen suicides in New Jersey. They established the Into the Sunlight organization to raise awareness for suicide prevention and end the stigma of mental illness.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in New Jersey for 24-34 year olds and the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Each year, nearly 43,000 Americans die by suicide.
To donate or become a sponsor, contact Singintothesunlight@gmail.com. Proceeds from the event go to programs for suicide prevention, mental health awareness, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.