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Musicians against suicide
Musicians against suicide
By Brian Wong
Interested in an evening of positivity, performances and prevention?
That's the goal when the Queer Western Organization hosts their first coffee house benefit on Thursday Feb. 21 at Martha's on Dundas Street to help raise money for the Ontario Suicide Prevention Network.
"The benefit basically came out of two ideas," said QWO president Jen Leppard. "We have a lot of talented members and wanted to put on a coffee house show and, at the same time, do something to help the [OSPN]."
"Our organization is about the sharing of knowledge and getting people to talk more openly about these issues," said Wayne Hobbs, founding chairman and current board member of the OSPN. "I think it's fantastic that a local community event is helping to increase suicide awareness."
Leppard said the prevalence of suicide among gay youth is an issue QWO did not want to ignore and added the push to support the OSPN was strengthened by some concerning numbers.
"We're doing this because of the statistic indicating that 30 per cent of youth suicide is gay-related," she explained.
Members of QWO will be showcasing their musical talents, including first-year music student Jonathan Tan.
"I think it's great that so many of us are participating," Tan said. "Every teenager has problems and issues to deal with, but a teen who believes he or she might be gay has that much more to carry on their shoulders that may drive them to suicide."
University Students' Council president Mike Lawless will also be playing a half-hour acoustic set at the event. "I was asked two weeks ago to perform and it sounded like a really cool benefit to be a part of," he said.
The night will also feature local singer-songwriter Tracy Rice.
In addition, Hobbs' daughter Western student Julie Hobbs has also been sponsored by the OSPN and, in May, will bike across the country to raise funds.
"I'm going to start the trip in Ottawa and finish off in Victoria, hitting major cities on the way," Julie says. "Hopefully we can raise a lot of money because gays are a key group I think needs to be addressed especially when it concerns suicide."
"We want lots of people to come and support the cause. It doesn't matter what sexual orientation you are gay, straight, bi it's a worthy cause and it's an issue that can affect anyone."