Joining Hands to Stop Teen Suicide

On July 9th in conjunction with the Friends of Loudoun Mental Health and the Ryan Bartel Foundation, Andrew and longtime friend and touring partner Michael DeLalla brought their "Global Journey in Songs & Strings" concert to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun in Leesburg, Virginia for a very special evening.

Loudoun County has seen an epidemic of teen suicides over the past couple years, as well as some other high-profile teen mental health cases. Loudoun includes Andrew's home in Lincoln as well as most of the students in Michael's annual 2-week summer guitar workshop PAVAN (the regional governor's arts program). Both wanted to find some way that they could help bring the community together to help address the crisis.

A great crowd of teens and adults turned out at the historic chapel on a warm evening to be inspired by music and share in remembrance of the victims and survivors of recent teen suicides. Suzie Bartel, whose son Ryan's tragic death two autumns ago led her to found the Ryan Bartel Foundation, was the guest speaker. Using one of Ryan's favorite quotes, "we're all human", the We're All Human project is a community of students, teachers and parents who want to provide a safe haven for suicidal youth. Katrina Cole, head of FLMH, spoke about the organization's efforts to work with the Foundation to develop critical peer training for high schoolers to help make them aware of available resources as well as form support networks in-house at each of the county high schools during the upcoming school year. 

Most every community has been touched by suicide at some point, and many of them by the tragic loss of troubled teens. In Loudoun County, hopefully the upcoming school year will be free of such tragedies, in no small part due to a group of committed people working to take care of each other.

Opening the evening with Michael's lovely fingerstyle "Marchais du Malaucene", accompanied by Andrew's jazzy vocalese.

As is standard practice during one of their "Global Journey in Songs & Strings" concerts, Michael and Andrew include some ferocious jamming.

L to R: Michael DeLalla, Suzie Bartel from the Ryan Bartel Foundation, Katrina Cole from Friends of Loudoun Mental Health, and Andrew McKnight.

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