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

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Mental Health Spotlight -

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.


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