Suicide is a leading cause of death in the U.S. Suicide does not discriminate. Every demographic—ethnicity, income level, zip code—has someone who has suffered from the loss of a loved one due to suicide. This includes Anne Arundel County mom Joy Cortina. Instead of suffering in silence, she is using music to bring some light to the tragedy with the Songs of Hope benefit concert.
Cortina grappled with thoughts of suicide as a teen, and at other points in her life after the loss of several loved ones to suicide. The more she reflected on her own experience, the more she wanted to help others dealing with the same struggle. “The kicker for me was after my sister’s attempt and the complexity of her recovery process,” says Cortina.
In August 2019 Cortina founded the Life of Joy Foundation, a local nonprofit whose mission is to foster a holistic approach to mental health and prevent suicide by serving as a link to integrative care of mind, body and spirit. The foundation is building a collaborative network of resources, community engagement and cost assistance programs to help people overcome their struggles and build a sustainable life of joy.
Initially inspired by the annual Out of the Darkness Walk and held nationwide by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Cortina came up with the idea for a concert for her walk team. Now branded as one of Life of Joy’s core outreach programs, this event will support other initiatives including mental health training and workshops, support groups, social media campaigns, prayer groups, and a referral network of trained providers and partner support programs.
The inaugural Songs of Hope benefit concert was to be held May 2. However, the pandemic forced a postponement. It is now scheduled as a virtual concert on Saturday, November 14. There will be performances by the Life of Joy Band and the Shelby Bondell Band. In addition, Kezia the Poet will share spoken word and there will be survivor testimonials.
Doors open with a Virtual Resource Connection at 6 p.m. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Proceeds will support the Life of Joy Foundation’s community programs for 2020. The public is invited to submit a tribute for special recognition during the event. Ticket options range from $15 for an individual ticket, a $15 “Pay It Forward” ticket, or $50 for a “Group Watch” ticket to enjoy the concert with friends and family.
If You See Something, Say Something
If you notice someone you love has a sudden change in mood, is expressing suicidal ideation or is experiencing depression, or if you’re experiencing feelings of hopelessness or thoughts of harming yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. You can also visit the nearest emergency department, dial 911 or seek the help of a mental health professional.