Organizers of Particle Accelerator were honored for a decade of raising awareness for suicide and depression at the 10th Annual Particle Accelerator concert June 11 in Putnam’s Rotary Park. From left: Putnam residents Jack and Grace Young, United Services President/CEO Diane Manning, and Putnam residents Eric and Sandy Gould.
PUTNAM – Hundreds of local residents and families came out to Rotary Park Saturday June 11 for the 10th Annual Particle Accelerator: A Day of Music and Hope, an annual benefit concert that raises awareness for suicide and depression and funds for United Services.
The free, all day music festival featured 18 bands playing music of all genres and for all ages. The concert began at noon and continued until 11 p.m. Despite a rainy start, hundreds of residents attended the festival throughout the day.
Putnam residents Gary and Karen Osbrey, owners of WINY Radio, said they were honored to serve as this year’s honorary chairpersons.
“Karen and I consider it a privilege to serve as honorary chairs of Particle Accelerator,” said Gary Osbrey. “Any family can be touched by suicide and mental illness and we believe it is important to remove the attached stigma and to introduce open and honest dialogue which will hopefully result in people seeking and receiving the help they need and deserve.”
The festival started in 2007 by family and friends of Putnam resident Jack Young Jr., who died by suicide on his 27th birthday that year.
Event organizer Grace Young, mother of Jack Young Jr., said when she and other family members and friends started the event in 2007 they “never expected it to get this big.”
“I think Jack would be pleased with this legacy,” Grace Young said.
The annual benefit concert has two main goals, organizers said. The first is to raise funds and awareness to support United Services, Inc., one of Connecticut’s most comprehensive private, non-profit behavioral health centers, providing mental and behavioral health education, prevention, treatment and social services to the children, adults and families of northeastern Connecticut since 1964.
“As we mark the 10th year, we are grateful to event organizers Jack and Grace Young and Eric and Sandy Gould, who work with United Services throughout the year to put on this important public awareness event,” said United Services President/CEO Diane L. Manning.
Organizers said this year’s event raised more than $8,500 for local Mental Health First Aid trainings, a public education initiative that helps the public identify people in the midst of a mental health crisis more readily and get them the resources and professional help they need before they harm themselves or others.
The second event goal is to provide information and support for depression and suicide prevention, while promoting music and civic engagement as a healthy alternative to drug and alcohol abuse among young adults.
Locally, United Services has seen a 241 percent increase in its adult outpatient mental health services since 2007. John Goodman, Director of Development and Communications for United Services, said the agency attributes that increase partially to the awareness raised by Particle Accelerator.
“We’re grateful to the Town of Putnam, our sponsors, and all of Northeastern Connecticut who have been strong supporters in this decade-long effort to break through the stigma of mental illness,” said Goodman. “Local families, businesses and community leaders have decided not to wait for state or federal action, and have come together to speak with one voice to help save the more than 40,000 lives lost to suicide each year, using music and art to remind everyone that there is help, and there is hope.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death for Americans in 2014, with 42,773 suicides reported.
Festival performers included: Kala Farnham, Adam Trudel, Llama Tsunami, Dragonfly Diversion, Synergy, The Papa Joe Show, Jason Bleau, The Grey Curtain, Frank Roman and the Breakwater Blues and more.
In addition to the music, the event also featured information on local resources from United Services, Putnam PRIDE (Partnership to Reduce the Influence of Drugs for Everyone), the Norwich Vet Center, and the Windham County chapter for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Representatives from the Open Arms LGBT Support Group as well as SeizeTheFacts.com and Preventing Teen Tragedy also provided information and resources at the event.
Putnam’s Artique studio painted four murals live during the concert, which were auctioned to support the event. Wellness tents featured yoga demonstrations, free massages and information from several local businesses.
Particle Accelerator’s Wall of Angels, a moving tribute to friends and family members lost the suicide, honored 245 people this year with photos on the wall and the lighting of luminaria at dusk.
Since 2007, the Particle Accelerator concerts have raised more than $38,000 for local mental health services.