PUT ON A FUNDRAISING EVENT
Want to raise some money for a mental health or suicide prevention charity? Seether’s Shaun morgan explains how he organised charity fest rise Above
When Seether vocalist Shaun morgan’s brother took his own life 10 years ago, his life began spiralling out of control. “I spent many years in a daze. I drank and snorted a ton of coke to try to numb the pain, which was obviously incredibly stupid,” he remembers. “It was once I came out of that fog that I knew I needed to make his death mean something and try to turn that tragedy into a positive thing.”
The result was rise Above, a music festival Shaun founded seven years ago. A percentage of all ticket sales goes to the charity SAVe, a minnesotabased suicide prevention and support organisation that raises awareness through events and educational materials, conducts research and offers support to people who have lost someone through suicide.
“rise Above is an annual music festival currently held in Bangor, maine, which raises awareness about suicide and its rapid rise in our society,” explains Shaun. “Leading up to the festival we do a lot of press to help us get our message out. We try to reach as many outlets as possible so that we can shine a light on what we consider to be becoming an epidemic.”
As well as donating money through ticket sales, Shaun also has other strategies to raise money for SAVe. “We’ve got limited-edition merchandise that’s sold at the show only, which also contributes to the fund,” Shaun says. “We ask bands to sell VIP meet-and-greet packages for fans, and we also have an online action where bands and musicians donate signed memorabilia. Or people can simply make a donation.”
Currently, rise Above holds 14,000 people, but Shaun says he’s hoping to expand it into other cities around the US to maximise its fundraising potential. As well as the music – Korn, Stone Sour and Halestorm are among the bands who played this year – there’s also plenty of places at the festival that attendees can get mental health support.
“There are stands with information and literature for people to take home with them,” Shaun tells us. “It’s published by SAVe so it helps people identify when someone’s in trouble. It might give someone who’s already in trouble an alternative option to reach out to the foundation and get in touch with mental health professionals.”
Having personally experienced the devastating aftermath of his brother’s suicide, Shaun is happy to talk to any fans who’ve also been affected. “I personally talk to hundreds of people a year about suicide, especially families or people who have experienced the loss of a loved one,” he says. “It’s incredibly painful to hear the stories so I try to be as compassionate as I can and really just be there to listen. I’m not a professional so I don’t talk about the health aspect but I do try to give comfort to those who have lost someone they love. each and every story strengthens my resolve and increases my determination to help as many people as I can.”
Shaun’s links in the metal world mean he can book high-profile bands each year, but he says that a lack of contacts or experience shouldn’t deter anyone from wanting to put on their own event. “It needn’t be a huge affair with tons of bands,” he says. “As far as I’m concerned, any event that helps raise awareness, regardless of size, is important and worth supporting.”
SAVe has resources and information on their website for US residents who want to set up an event, but here in the UK, mind (see p.76) also provides ideas, support and fundraising packs to anyone wanting to set up an event in the name of mental health.
“I TURNED TRAGEDY INTO A POSITIVE THING” FOLLOWING HIS BROTHER’S DEATH BY SUICIDE, SHAUN MORGAN SET UP RISE ABOVE